Mittens are part of those useful clothing materials babies need to protect themselves. Don’t be surprised. There are a lot of clothing, tools, baby equipment, and the like that are explicitly built for protecting them from some aspects of their growth. For instance, babies become more agile and curious as they grow. They want to find out what goes on in their environment; they want to touch, feel,- and move around.
However, it is not always safe for them to touch stuff and even move around. Due to that, parents buy cots, bassinets, and playpens to keep babies from moving out of safety. As parents, there are some variables that you cannot change as your baby grows. Therefore, you need to protect your baby from some things you can’t control – including their growth.
As babies grow, you may be curious about how long they need to use these measures. As for mittens, there is no textbook time frame for them to use mittens. It is often left to the discretion of a parent to decide when their kids no longer need it.
That is, as soon as you feel the mitten has served its purpose or as you soon as you are confident your child has grown out of self-injury, your baby can stop wearing it.
Since most parents wear mittens for their babies as soon as they are a few weeks old, experts have deemed it safe that they can stop wearing mittens as soon as they are 6 weeks – to 2 months old.
When babies approach these periods of their growth, they need sensitivity in their hands and palm, and feet more than ever.
Why do Babies wear mittens?
We have talked about when your baby should stop wearing mittens, but what are mittens in the first place, and why a baby should wear them. Mittens are soft clothing worn by both adults and babies for protection and warmth. Mittens are made from soft and warm materials like silk and cotton. In babies, most brands use soft wool to protect babies from injuring themselves when they scratch at their skin with the cloth. Here are some of the reasons babies wear mittens
1. To protect them from their nails
When babies start to grow, their nails start to grow too. This may be dangerous to them even after a few weeks after birth. Babies have considerable motor skills, and they sometimes tug at their faces and skin. If babies do that with sharp nails, they may end up injuring their soft skin.
If it is to protect them from nail injuries, why not just cut the nails right? When babies start to grow, their nails do not have enough keratin. That is, it is not hardened enough. Therefore, cutting the nails may injure the baby. The best you could do as a parent is to use mittens for them until they are old enough to get nail cuts –if that’s what you want to do.
2. Mittens are worn for warmth
Depending on what part of the world you live in, you could experience harmattan or winter. You don’t want your baby’s hands, feet, or body frostbitten or numb from too much cold. Mittens come in very handy on such occasions. They keep the hands, feet, and other parts of the baby’s body (depending on what sort of mitten) warm.
Aside from that, babies quickly lose or gain heat, so their bodies need insulation; cotton mittens are very useful in such circumstances.
How many mittens does a Baby need?
Since babies do not need to wear mittens throughout till they grow, they do not need more than a pair of mittens at most. But, of course, this also depends on the quality of cloth the mitten is made from. Two mittens are usually enough in most cases, however.
Should Babies wear mittens to bed?
1. If you consider the purposes a mitten serves, it seems logical that babies could wear it to sleep. However, you need to be careful not to expose your baby to greater danger than you are protecting them from. It is not safe for a baby to wear a mitten to bed in the event of the following;
2. If the mitten has decorations and attachments – The danger here is that it predisposes your baby to choke while sleeping. Experts recommend that when a baby sleeps, it should be as free of attachments as possible – even including toys and pillows.
3. If the baby is too hot – You don’t need extra clothing when your baby is too hot, so you need to watch out for this. Unfortunately, there are instances of babies that pass out from too much heat. In some extreme cases, it can even lead to death.
4. If the mitten is dirty – A dirty mitten is dangerous to the baby’s health. They are exposed to dangerous microbes if they wear a dirty mitten to sleep.
Some baby experts do not recommend that a baby wears mittens to sleep. However, you can rest assured that it is safe after looking out for the above.
Baby Mittens Pros and Cons
There are some benefits and some disadvantages of wearing mittens for your babies.
The pros of wearing a mitten include;
- It protects babies from scratching themselves with their nails.
- Mittens can be stylish, too, depending on the make and the design.
- It keeps the baby warm and insulated from fluctuations in the environmental temperature.
- Mittens are hygienic. They can keep a baby’s hands, nails, feet, and palms free from dirt.
- Mittens can serve the purposes of gloves and socks.
- Mittens can prevent babies from sucking on their fingers.
- It can protect babies from other self-injurious acts like pulling their hair and biting their own hands.
On the other hand, here are some of the cons of wearing a mitten for a baby
- Mittens expose babies to the risk of choking, especially if the mittens have other materials attached to them.
- Mittens are often made to be tight and elastic. However, if a baby wears a tight mitten for too long, it may end up hampering the flow of blood in the baby’s body.
- When babies grow up enough to put their hands in their mouths, mittens can be unhygienic. Instead of their hands, the mittens gather dirt, dust, and germs.
- Mittens can mask a baby’s sense of touch (sensation). It is just like covering a baby’s eyes; the baby won’t see.
- It prevents the mother and baby’s skin from interacting, beneficial for breastfeeding.
- Babies are not able to use their hands well when they wear mittens. Sometimes baby uses their hands to comfort themselves or handle toys. This movement is hindered when they wear mittens.
As a parent, it is left to you to make the judgment call of whether the pros outweigh the cons at different points of your baby’s development.
How long should Babies wear mittens?
As emphasized earlier, babies can wear mittens as long as it still serves the purpose of protecting them. To give you a clearer idea, you should consider the following.
In a day, has your baby worn the mitten for longer than 2 hours? – It is necessary too that you free the hands of your baby for the sake of sensation. This is because they also need to feel sensations in their hands. Due to that, when your baby wears a mitten for two hours or more, you should remove them to give the hands a little breathing space.
Has it been two months since your baby started wearing the mittens? – This is usually the average time it takes a baby to mature out of mittens, especially when it is for the sake of protection.
Are your baby’s nails strong enough to be cut – You can stop wearing mittens for your baby after you have cut the baby’s nails three times or more. Instead, you can use nail cutting. Besides, long nails would have started becoming unhygienic to your baby at this point.
However, these are not uniform to all babies; they are subject to change depending on what the parents think is best for their respective babies. However, in anything you do as a parent, you should look out for safety first.
Have You Read These Yet?
How long do babies wear scratch mittens
Scratch meetings are like tiny gloves worn on hand specifically to protect the baby from scratch injury. In essence, they are not entirely different from usual mittens. The only differences may be in thickness and their ability to provide insulation.
Babies should wear scratch mittens as long as they are still predisposed to self-injury. That is, since your baby has long nails and you cannot cut them, they should keep their scratch mittens on. Usually, you would have overcome this challenge when a baby is 6 weeks or older.
Mittens Baby Development
The Mittens are connected to baby development in many ways you must have noticed from all the explanations above.
They are needed when a baby has considerable motor skills and skeletal muscle growth – that is when they move to touch themselves with their own hands. On the same note, you could stop using mittens when babies grow enough keratin in their nails.
At that stage of baby development, their nails area is hardened enough for clean cutting.
Finally, mittens are connected to a baby’s sensory development, and they are quite obviously so.
Baby Mittens Sensory development
Mittens can be quite detrimental to sensory development in babies. A baby’s sensory growth is connected to how much the hands receive sensory stimulus from touch. That is, a baby’s sensory development is a direct function of how many contacts their hands make. Although babies use their hands while wearing mittens, their palm does not contact.
Also, they can’t use their hands well because their other fingers are covered up. It is advisable for you as a parent to watch how long your baby wears mittens and how necessary it is for them to wear them. This is important if you do not want delayed sensory development in your baby.
When should babies stop wearing mittens
You can finally stop wearing mittens for your baby once they are above 8 weeks old. This is the optimal time for sensory development in babies. Besides, when babies reach this time of their growth, you can cut their nails already.
In whatever you do as a parent, you should prioritize safety, development, and comfort before making any decision about mittens. If you are doubtful about anything, you could use the help of a Pediatrician. Good luck in your parenting journey.