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baby with scratches on its face

baby scratching face: why babies scratch their faces and how to treat them

3 minutes


There aren’t many things more beautiful than our own baby’s face. Whether it’s the look of total peace while they sleep or that mischievous grin when they’re doing something cheeky, their expressions combined with that perfect, soft baby skin is just the best.

So, when all of a sudden there’s a big bleeding scratch across their face, it can come as a bit of a shock. And then when you realise that big bleeding scratch came about from their own fingernails? Well, cue feeling like a terrible parent.

Because really, how could you have let you child’s fingernails get so razor sharp that they could draw blood from their own face? Well…pretty easily actually.

  • 1. How can I prevent my baby from scratching their face?

  • 2. Why is my baby scratching their face when upset or at night?

  • 3. How do I get rid of scratches on my baby's face?

  • 4. Will your baby's face scratches leave a scar?

1. How can I prevent my baby from scratching their face? Cutting baby nails to avoid baby face scratches.

“Cutting a baby’s fingernails is easy,” said no parent ever. 

Clipping a baby's fingernails is a fine art that involves skill, patience and a baby that doesn’t move, and therefore, isn’t the kind of thing you can quickly do as and when.

Many parents and caregivers find it’s a team effort - one holds the baby still while the other cuts the baby's nails, and some people swear by cutting a baby's nails at night or after bathing your baby. Another top tip is to try and clip baby's nails while they sleep in the pram. That way, they stay still and you have daylight to work with.

2. Why is my baby scratching their face when upset or at night?

Babies, especially newborns, scratch their faces easily.

Also, babies can be quite clumsy: their arms flail around, they still don’t have full control of their hands so it’s really easy for them to hit themselves in the face. Therefore, if one of their nails is just a touch too long, or has a sharp corner, before you know it, there’s an unsightly scratch of your baby's face to deal with.

“I do worry whether old ladies on the bus will judge me if my daughter has a wolverine scratch across her cheek,” says dad, Luke. “You feel like blurting out ‘It wasn't me! I watch her constantly!’ even though she looks like she's been in a scrappy street fight.”

3. How do I get rid of scratches on my baby's face? Treating baby face scratches.

As much as it fills us with horror to see even a trace of blood on our baby’s face, the NHS advise that most small cuts, face scratches and grazes can usually be treated at home. Simply clean and cover, but avoid using cotton wool as the fluff can get stuck in the wound. WaterWipes biodegradable, vegan, cruelty-free and sensitive baby wet wipes are an alternative as they’re made from 99.9% water and a drop of [KA1]  fruit extract and are as soft as cotton wool.

Similarly, if you accidentally give their fingers a nip while trimming their nails, try not to panic. Just apply a clean WaterWipe on the cut and apply a little pressure - the bleeding should soon stop.

It’s important to keep baby’s nails as short as possible, and if your baby is frequently scratching themselves (at night if they have baby eczema for instance) look into purchasing some scratch mittens to keep their nails covered up.

4. Will your baby's face scratches leave a scar?

They should heal by themselves in a matter of days and your baby's face back to normal. But remember, if your baby scratches their self or you scratch your baby's face - you’re not a terrible parent and it’s usually no reason to panic. If you are ever worried about a cut on your baby’s skin, speak to your GP or pharmacist.

If you found our baby face scratches article handy, then why not check out our other articles on delicate baby skin over on our Parenting Hub, like the below:

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1) Baby Centre. How to trip you baby's nails. Available at: Last accessed 5th May 2021.

2) NHS. Cuts and grazes. Available at: Last accessed 5th May 2021.

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