three baby images - crying, getting nails clipped

Save Those Cheeks: Proven Tips and Treatments for Baby Scratching Face!

Concerned about your baby scratching their face?

Discover effective solutions to keep their nails trim and ensure a happy, scratch-free baby!

This post may contain affiliate links. For my full disclosure policy click here.

This post may contain affiliate links. For my full disclosure policy click here.

Key Things To Know

  • Natural Behavior: It’s common for babies to scratch their faces, especially in the first few months as they’re getting used to their bodies and movements.
  • Regular Nail Care: Regularly trimming and filing a baby’s nails can help reduce the risk of scratches.
  • Mittens: Many parents use baby mittens to prevent face scratching, especially during sleep.
  • Skin Irritation: Scratching can be a sign of skin irritation, such as eczema, allergies, or dryness.
  • Growth Milestone: As babies grow and gain better motor control, they’ll scratch less.
  • Avoiding External Irritants: Ensure baby skincare products are gentle and hypoallergenic to reduce potential skin irritations.
  • Comfort: Sometimes, babies might scratch out of discomfort or tiredness. Ensuring they are well-rested and comfortable can reduce scratching.
  • Consultation: If excessive scratching continues or if there are other signs of skin problems, it’s essential to consult with a pediatrician.

Why Is My Baby Scratching Their Face?

One reason babies scratch their face is their lack of hand control. This is a normal phase, and as they grow, they’ll learn not to scratch themselves.

What you can do:

  • Keep their nails trimmed while they are developing their motor skills.
  • You can put those little hands in a pair of thin mittens to help prevent the scratches. I suggest not using mittens all the time; babies need to develop finger motor skills.
  • While your baby is sleeping, one way to prevent unwanted scratches is to put them in a swaddle. This will not only help to prevent scratches but can also help them sleep more soundly.

We’ve used the Baby Frida Nail Clippers and they work well! These make a great must have gift for new moms too!

There is a little slit at the top so you can see how much of their nail will be trimmed, helping to prevent cuts.

They are Suffering From Baby Skin Issues

Some babies scratch due to skin issues like eczema, dermatitis or just dry skin.

What You Can Do:

Consider a baby specific moisturizer several times throughout the day to help with dry skin. You could also apply a baby specific anti-itch cream.

Experts suggest creams over lotions because creams offer a better skin barrier and moisturize longer.

Talk with your piedatrician or nurse practitioner if you think their skin condition could be eczema. They may be able to write a prescription or could make a recommendation on an over the counter product to help with the irritation.

They Are Upset

Many babies will scratch themselves or hit themselves when they are upset.  

This act is common because babies can’t express themselves like older kids and may thrash about.

What can I do?

  • Address your baby’s needs promptly.
  • Check if they’re hungry, cold, hot, or tired. As they grow, you’ll better recognize their needs.
  • If you are concerned there is a deeper issue, consult your pediatrician.

Trimming Babies Nails

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  1. Gather Your Gear: First things first, you’ll want those cute little baby nail clippers or scissors. They’re designed just for those tiny fingers. And don’t forget a baby nail file for those pesky rough spots and a soft cloth for any oops moments.
  2. Timing is Everything: Pro tip: Tackle this task when your little one is snoozing or post-bath when those nails are nice and soft. It’s all about making it as fuss-free as possible.
  3. Let There Be Light: Make sure you’re in a spot where you can see every little detail. Those baby nails are tiny!
  4. Hold That Tiny Hand: Gently, but securly, hold onto that little hand. Push the finger pad away just a tad to ensure you’re only getting the nail.
  5. Snip with Confidence: Go straight across with those clippers, then round out the tips. And hey, if you’re nervous, it’s okay to trim a little now and come back later for any touch-ups.
  6. Smooth Moves:Feel around for any sharp spots and use that baby nail file to smooth things out.
  7. Little Toes Need Love, Too: Those toenails don’t grow as fast, but when you do trim, go straight across to keep everything looking neat and tidy.
  8. Stay Cool, Mama: If you have a little slip-up, it’s okay. Just press a cloth on any nicks and know you’re doing your best.
  9. Keep ‘Em Short and Sweet: Baby nails are like wildflowers, they grow fast! Check in weekly to keep those fingers looking good.
  10. Safety First, Always: Keep all your tools out of reach. Even the baby-friendly ones can be curious toys.
  11. Ask the Pros: If you’re feeling a bit unsure, there’s no harm in asking your pediatrician for a quick tutorial during your next visit.

    Emery Boards

    If you’re not comfortable using a pair of nail clippers, you can try a baby emery board. While the nails might be sharp, they are pretty soft and you can easily buff their nails down.

    When Do Babies Stop Scratching Their Face?

    Newborns often scratch their face due to lack of hand control. This behavior typically subsides by 4-6 months.


    Whether you have a newborn or older baby, seeing your baby scratching their face at night can distressing! This is a relatively normal behavior though.

    Thankfully their precious skin is also growing like crazy and these surface scratches won’t likely result in scars.

    If you are concerned it’s eczema or another skin condition see your pediatrician right away for advice on how to properly treat the dry skin.