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How to Stop a Baby From Scratching at Night

by Kimberly Dyke

It can be difficult to get a baby to stop scratching itchy skin during the day time, but the challenge increases at night when you're not always there. Scratching can worsen a skin condition like eczema, according to Lawrence Eichenfield, M.D. in a WebMD article, so it is beneficial to find a way to soothe your baby’s skin throughout the night. You might find that you can get your little one to stop scratching with a combination of strategies.

Trim your baby’s fingernails frequently and gently file the edges if you can to reduce the damage that scratching can cause the skin. Cover your infant's hands at night with no-scratch mittens or socks to keep him from scratching. Use items that are made of 100 percent cotton and are snug without binding.

Bathe your baby in lukewarm water for no longer than 10 minutes, using a mild, fragrance-free soap. Consider adding an oatmeal-based bath product to the bath water to help reduce itchiness. Gently pat your child dry when you take him out of the tub. Cover his skin while it is still damp with a moisturizing lotion or cream, such as petroleum jelly, two or three times each day.

Use an ice pack or a cold, damp washcloth on your baby’s skin before going to bed at night to soothe itchiness and swelling. Hold the cold compress on the affected area for a few minutes for effective relief.

Maintain a cool temperature in your baby’s bedroom at night, according to Dr. Colin Holden, dermatologist and president of the British Association of Dermatologists, since skin can become hotter and itchier at night. Use cotton sheets and lightweight, natural fiber bedding. Keep pets out of your child’s room in case your child is allergic to pet hair, dander or saliva.

Place loose-fitting clothing made from 100 percent cotton on your baby at night to minimize skin irritation. Wash all of your infant’s clothing in a mild, fragrance-free detergent. Cover the irritated skin with clothing to help keep her from scratching an exposed area.

Items you will need
  • Fingernail clippers
  • Nail file
  • No-scratch mittens
  • Socks
  • Mild soap and detergent
  • Oatmeal bath product
  • Towel
  • Moisturizer
  • Ice pack
  • Washcloth
  • Cotton sheets
  • Natural-fiber bedding
  • Loose-fitting clothing

Tips

  • Keep in mind that in some cases, a food allergy might trigger baby eczema, notes Dr. Colin Holden. Possible food triggers include milk, eggs, citrus fruit, chocolate and peanuts. If you suspect a food allergy might be causing your baby's skin condition, consult with your pediatrician.
  • Speak with your pediatrician if you think your baby might need topical creams or ointments to help with nighttime itching resulting from eczema or other skin conditions.
  • Avoid putting wool or synthetic-fiber clothing on your baby to reduce itchiness.

Warnings

  • Bathing with hot water can remove natural, protective oils from your baby’s skin.
  • Soaps containing perfumes or deodorants can irritate sensitive skin.

About the Author

Kimberly Dyke is a Spanish interpreter with a B.A. in language and international trade from Clemson University. She began writing professionally in 2010, specializing in education, parenting and culture. Currently residing in South Carolina, Dyke has received certificates in photography and medical interpretation.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images