A lot of new parents are extremely puzzled by their infant’s behavior.
They have lost sleep over their baby’s seemingly weird behavior and unexplainable actions.
These new bundles of joy like to take their hands to their faces, and then they begin to rub these tiny hands on their smooth cheeks like there’s no tomorrow.
The rubbing can get vigorous, so at times, the baby ends up scratching his or her own face.
If baby is sleeping, it can even reach the point where that entire baby rubbing face racket wakes the said baby up.
As everyone knows, a cranky baby makes everyone pay attention with loud wails and whimpers.
Why would anyone, especially a baby, do this seemingly self-harming acts to his or her own face?
The sight is just really bothersome for many newbie parents because as far as they are concerned, this is not normal behavior.
And yet here comes their baby, intent on just rubbing and rubbing the face with the hands.
The fact that baby doesn’t want to stop makes it all the more frustrating and nerve-wracking.
Will this baby rubbing face ruckus ever end?
Baby Rubbing Face Explained
Fret not dear parents.
It is totally okay to feel annoyed and frustrated that you cannot decipher every want and need of your new family addition instantly.
Don’t worry because your baby isn’t destined to be face rubbers for the rest of his or her life.
Baby keeps rubbing face initially as some form of soothing mechanism.
Remember, babies cannot speak so they use nonverbal forms of communication to keep us alert regarding what they want.
If they could only speak, do you think they would continue on this way? Of course not!
Babies will rub a dub, dub their faces, especially their eyes and ears when they feel tired.
Sometimes, they do this because they are also itchy.
Babies are little humans so they, too, feel what we feel and they do have the dexterity to scratch their own itch.
Sometimes, they discover a new body part like their ear so from the cheeks, eyes, nose, or mouth, they now include both ears in their rubbing repertoire.
Ears can be sensitive so it is not surprising that babies do enjoy copping up a feel.
Take this baby rubbing face cues as the sign to turn in your baby down for a nap or bedtime.
If your baby keeps rubbing face, paying close attention to his or her ears, acting like a fussy monster, and running a temperature of more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, then he or she could have an ear infection.
Don’t be afraid to call your pediatrician if that’s the case.
Face Rubbing a Sign of Teething
Your little guys or gal just doesn’t want to leave the face alone.
Your baby keeps rubbing his or her face, targeting the cheeks and mouth area.
You feel disconsolate and desperate and want it all to stop immediately.
But, wait! Hold your horses, mom and dad.
What baby is doing is not life-threatening.
The rubbing of the face is a source of comfort to your little one who might be going through the throes of teething.
Teething is part of every normal baby’s development.
Growing little chompers is something parents look forward to because it is a milestone.
That being said, these new front teeth might look cute, but sprouting them out of fresh, sensitive gums can be a rather tricky and painful business.
Your baby may be rubbing and rubbing and rubbing this area because the little one is uncomfortable and in pain.
Keep a watchful eye if your baby’s face rubbing comes with excessive drooling, chomping down on fists, and reddening of the gums.
These confirm that baby is indeed teething and is trying his or her best to self-soothe and keep calm amidst the pain.
Alleviate your baby’s discomfort by offering something cold for the gums.
Something hard to bite on is actually therapeutic.
You can also ask your pediatrician about giving a low dose of Tylenol to ease his pain.
Teething is an uncomfortable business.
Sometimes, the pain radiates to the jaw and back of the mouth which is the reason why your baby may rub incessantly and ferociously on his or her cheeks.
The Rubbing Face of a Hungry Beast
Yes, babies are capable of doing unusual and plain weird things at times.
It could be part of their quirky, unique personality or maybe the behavior is just plain preference.
But sometimes, babies act and do certain movements because they are trying to convey that they need something.
Since they cannot verbalize it, flailing arms and legs or crying is the only way to get our attention.
The most probable reason that your baby is rubbing his or her face on your, or even on her own hands, is because the baby is hungry.
The American Academy of Pediatricians refers to this as the rooting reflex.
A reflex occurs in certain stages of development, many of which are present in the early infant years.
Often referred to as an involuntary action, a reflex is seen as spontaneous or a reaction to certain stimuli.
When you’re baby is feeling hunger pangs, then it is normal for her to rub her face
most especially her cheek or mouth area because it is reflexive behavior for baby to search for the nipple when hunger strikes.
Sleeping Beauty Rubbing Face
Another plausible reason why baby keeps on rubbing his or her face is because this baby is way too tired.
As mentioned previously, face rubbing might be a manifestation that baby needs to sleep.
Let us not wait for the rubbing to escalate into a full-blown cranky eardrum busting meltdown.
It is best to heed the warning and take out all the stimuli so that baby can feel drowsy and succumb to the sleep he or she so rightfully deserves.
And really, all those face rubbing gestures should not be a reason for alarm and panic when baby is sleepy.
After all, even adults rub their eyes and their faces when they are feeling tired.
It is completely normal behavior to do these gestures.
When people are tired, the eyes feel a bit heavy, even almost itchy.
Rubbing the eyes, rubbing the face, or even pressing the eyes trigger what is known as the oculocardiac reflex.
This lowers the heart rate, not to the point of dangerous levels, but it lowers the heart rate enough to the point where the person can relax easily.
Doing this gentle slow down helps the body succumb to the tired feeling, so the person will find rest.
If an adult exhibits these behaviors when he is tired, then it is totally natural for baby to follow suit.
Scratchy Rubbing is it Itchy
When baby is in a rubbing mood, it is also important for you to check out the condition of the little one’s skin.
Sometimes, baby can be doing all these rubbings because he or she is itchy.
After all, an itch must always be scratched and it feels darn good to do it.
Check your baby’s face for any signs of rash, dermatitis, or even eczema.
Examine carefully to see if baby’s skin is supple and moist.
If the skin on the cheek is looking dry and rough, then moisturize with lotion or even an essential oil like coconut, which is totally safe for newborn baby skin.
It might also be important to take note if baby is having an allergic reaction to the bath soap you use
or perhaps he or she is also having a reaction to the laundry soap you’ve chosen.
For the sake of keeping smooth skin, going through trial and error with these supplies is the best choice.
Sometimes, babies have these reactions to these foreign chemicals.
All these rubbing gestures are totally normal behavior for children.
Just make sure that your baby’s nails have been cut short and then filed so that he or she won’t scratch the smooth, sensitive skin.
You can also opt to have mittens be placed on both hands for an added layer of protection.
After all, no one wants to have their cute, cuddly baby looking like the banged up and scratched up face of the iconic character called Edward Scissor Hands.
How to Stop It
There are many things in life that you can control but one of them is not your children’s reflexes.
When they’re feeling tired, it is instinctual to rub the face and the eyes.
When they’re hungry, they can also revert to doing the same gestures.
There is nothing wrong if your baby engages in these kinds of behavior.
He or she is not in mortal peril.
All that rubbing is not even dangerous to their health.
Sometimes, we just have to let our children be so that they can be free to do what makes them feel comfortable.
There is no reason for you to panic with baby’s excessive face rubbing, not unless it comes with a fever and other cranky types of behavior like excessive crying or vomiting.
In fact, take the rubbing gestures as a good and healthy sign.
These might actually be even clues for parents so that they can take their cues from baby’s gestures and actually give the babies what they want.
- Why Do Babies Scratch Their Face?
- Hair Pulling: Quirky or Concerning?
- Baby Chewing Tongue: Should I Be Worried?
- What Is Rooting Reflex?
- Oculocardiac Reflex
- Baby Talk: Nonverbal Infant Communication
- Welcoming Your Baby’s First Tooth
- Teething: Tips for soothing sore gums