Why Does My Baby Scratch Everything? (Explained)

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Parenting is a challenging and sometimes scary endeavor. Babies often do things that might confuse, worry or even scare parents, especially parents of firstborns. 

When a baby starts scratching every surface he can get his hands on, his head, face, or other body parts, and even his parents or other people, it can be one of those situations. 

This guide will take a look into the reason behind this behavior, and help you figure out when this scratching behavior is part of a problem or could cause one, and what to do about it. 

6 Reasons Why Your Baby Is Scratch Everything

There are a few reasons why babies scratch themselves, various surfaces, or other people. Some of them are harmless, while others require some action to be taken by parents.

Let’s take a look at 6 of these:

Sensory Exploration

Babies learn about themselves and the world that surrounds them by exploring through their sensory organs, namely their eyes, ears, tongues, noses, and skins.

Also Read: Why does my baby lick me

They constantly look at things, listen to the sounds around them, grasp, touch, scratch, tap, and throw objects, as well as smell and put things in their mouths to learn about their properties. 

Why Your Baby Scratches

So when you see your little one scratch everything within reach, or even his or her skin, there is a high probability of it being an attempt to learn about the texture, temperature, size, and contour of various objects and their bodies. 

Skin Conditions

When babies are scratching themselves, it is always advisable to see if there is some condition that makes their skin itchy. 

Dry Skin

A newborn’s delicate skin needs time to adjust to the outside world and can become dry on the way.

Giving a baby bath too often, and the use of harsh shampoo and soap can contribute to skin dryness too.

When the skin gets dry for any of those reasons, a baby might respond by scratching it all the time.

Fungal Infections

Various fungal infections can make a baby’s skin itchy. These infections can cause itchy rashes on the skin. 

Other skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, and scabies can make babies scratch themselves too. 

Heat Rashes

Hot and humid weather increases sweating. Excessive sweating and high environmental temperatures together with high humidity can make a baby’s skin itchy and rashy. 

Tactile Hyposensitivity

There are instances where a baby’s brain does not perceive the signals coming in from the sensory organs normally, resulting in either hyper or hypo sensitivity on any combination of sensations. 

When it comes to tactile (touch) sensations, a baby who is hyposensitive might excessively touch, grasp or scratch things while hypersensitivity might make a baby avoid the sensations. 

This kind of sensory integration problem is often associated with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Screen Addiction Syndrome. 

Emotional Reasons

Sometimes a baby’s scratching behavior, especially scratching themselves, their parents, or other people, can be a way of communicating and relieving anger, boredom, or frustration. 

If the scratching is accompanied by crying or wailing, the chances of the baby needing some emotional relief are higher.

Insect Bites

Getting bitten by insects, mosquitoes, ants, ticks, fleas, etc can cause itches, swelling, and redness around the bites, which a baby might scratch with such intent. 

This is more common in the tropics than in temperate regions of the world. 


A baby might scratch themself as a response to an allergic reaction to certain medications, food, or something that came into contact with the skin, like a caterpillar.

When And How To Take Action

If your baby’s scratching things is just exploration with tactile sensory input, there’s nothing for you to worry about, your baby will be fine.

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Other situations, however, may require you to take action – preventing your baby’s skin from getting lacerated due to intense scratching, keeping the scratching to a minimum and addressing any medical issues associated with the behavior or dealing with removing some trigger factors from the baby’s environment.

Trim Your Baby’s Fingernails

No matter the reason, it is always good to have your little one’s nails trimmed so that the scratching will not damage the delicate skin.

Trim your baby’s nails about once a week. Use a soft nail file rather than clippers or scissors. 

It is best to do it when the baby is asleep or being fed.

Use Baby Mittens

In addition to keeping a baby’s palms warm, mittens can prevent skin abrasions caused by the baby’s scratches.

Keep The Baby’s Skin Well Moisturized

Using an unscented moisturizer specially designed for babies to keep your little one’s skin from being dry will minimize the scratching. 

Also make sure the soaps and shampoos you use on your baby are specifically designed for babies, with no harsh chemicals. 

Dress Your Baby In Cotton

Make sure all your baby’s clothes are 100℅ cotton. Preferably organic cotton.

Cotton provides good ventilation and wicks sweat effectively, minimising the possibility of heat rashes and associated scratching. Rompers and all in ones, like these beautiful 100% Cotton designs from Carter’s allow your baby freedom of movement. Similarly I love Hatley for their 100% Organic Cotton, eye catching designs and environmentally friendly credentials. I know all those fancy little outfits are cute , but they have so many seams and fastenings they can be really uncomfortable for your baby. Trust me babies are happier in rompers. They come in all sorts of fun colours and patterns. Some have built in mittens which are brilliant for a very scratchy baby.

Keep Your Baby Protected From Insects That Bite

Use something like a mosquito net to keep insects that might bite away from the baby.

It will be a good idea to keep the house pets away too.

Get Medical Help

Skin infections, conditions like dermatitis, allergies, sensory problems, and insect bites require medical attention. 

Take your baby to a doctor if your baby’s scratching behavior is caused by any of them. 

Constant and continuous scratching will indicate a skin condition, infection or otherwise, or a sensory problem.

Also Read: Baby not clapping at 12 months

Sudden outbursts of frantic scratching with swollen and inflamed spots on the skin possibly associated with crying might indicate allergies or insect bites. 

Do Not Encourage Scratching Others Out Of Anger Or Frustration

Teach your baby it is not acceptable behavior to scratch others when they are angry or frustrated at an early age. 

If they learn to use this behavior to get their way,  it is going to affect their personality development and impact their social skills. 

Do Not Encourage Scratching Others Out Of Anger Or Frustration

If this is caused by some behavior disorder, your baby might need the help of a child psychologist. 

Quick Recap

When a baby starts scratching himself, his parents and other people, and any surface he gets his hands on, he is usually exploring the world around him, learning the properties of things through tactile sensations.

But sometimes this behavior can be caused by environmental conditions, poor interpretation of tactile sensations by the brain, skin conditions, behavioral problems, allergies, insect bites, some soaps and shampoos, and emotional distress. 

These situations might need some intervention.

Keeping the baby’s fingernails trimmed and putting mittens on his hands help prevent skin lacerations by scratching. 

Dressing the baby in cotton helps wick sweat, provides ventilation, and minimizes heat rashes and scratching accompanied by that. 

Always use soft soaps and shampoos on your baby so that they wouldn’t irritate their skin, which makes them scratch it.

Medical help should be sought if baby scratching everything is caused by sensory problems, allergies, fungal infections or other skin conditions, or behavioral disorders.

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