Get are our best tips for how to help your baby stop scratching eczema. We share 10 different ways you can help your baby to stop scratching itchy eczema.
The one question I ask myself over and over again is how can I help my baby stop scratching?
How to help baby stop scratching eczema
As cute as babies are, itchy babies can also be extremely frustrating because you can’t reason or bribe them. I can’t tell my itchy eczema baby, “Hey, stop scratching, you’re going to rip your skin open!” or “Hey, don’t scratch, and we can play with this toy.”
If they feel an itch, then they’re going to scratch it. Unfortunately, that might leave you wondering, how can I stop my baby from scratching eczema?
So what can you do to help a baby stop scratching?
The bigger picture is to get to the root of the itch by working out an eczema routine that works for you. We do it alongside various medical professionals (mainly our dermatologist).
The goal of the eczema routine is to help manage the our baby’s eczema, and therefore minimize any itch.
Until then, here are our 10 best ways to to help a baby stop scratching eczema.
10 ways to help baby stop scratching eczema
1. Use distractions to help your baby stop scratching eczema
Taking my baby’s mind off of the itch is always the first line of defense against itchy eczema.
But it can be hard to execute when dealing with babies who are limited in their interests and development. (Basically, I’m referring to pre-iPad abilities.)
Just take it as a challenge to try and make your baby laugh. Play simple games like peekaboo, sing nursery rhymes, or use stuffed animals as puppets.
And believe me when I say it gets much easier once they enjoy watching TV or using an iPad! Now as a toddler, we sit can sit him in front of the TV, aim the fan so it’s blowing directly on him to cool him off, and give him an ice pack to hold over the itchy skin.
2. Give your baby something interesting to hold in their hands so they can’t scratch
Along the line of distraction, try to always make sure your baby has something in their hand to hold on to. From our experience, idle hands = more scratching.
Anything will work for this, but a cool pack works great if you are home. It’s sensory play, it helps the baby cool off, and cooling the itchy skin can help minimize the itchiness.
They are colorful and catch a baby’s attention. Our toddler squeezes the packs around to try to smush the gel balls inside. We have four of them, so we can rotate them when one loses its cool.
If you have a younger baby, try wearing a nursing necklace at all times, even if you are not nursing. The giant beads on the necklaces will give your baby hand something to play with.
3. Try self-feeding snacks that will distract and keep their fingers busy
Small snacks are one of our surest ways to distract our baby from scratching. It not only distracts our itchy baby from scratching, it also gives him something to hold on to in his hands as he feeds himself (of course, it also helps with dexterity and coordination!).
Choose small snacks that babies have to pick up and eat one at a time. Baby puffs, cereals, and cut-up fruit pieces are great. We used to also give our baby raisins, until we realized that raisins made him itchy.
If you need a recommendation, Happy Baby Puffs has always been a hit here. It worked great at 6 months, and it still does at 2.5 years! We chose this brand because it is dairy free, corn free and wheat free. Both dairy and corn cause our baby to get itchy.
4. Apply lotion on the itchy eczema skin
Lotion hydrates the skin, as well as gives the skin a cooling effect. Your hands rubbing across the baby’s skin applying the lotion may also be enough to calm a stubborn itch.
A baby cannot control how hard they scratch, so they may accidentally scratch open their skin. Sometimes an itchy baby just needs a light touch from mom or dad in the particular bothersome area and the itch will go away.
5. Cool off! Directly cool the skin with a mister or cool pack
A cool sensation on the skin takes away the itchy feeling and should help a baby stop scratching. This can be done in a few different ways, and is somewhat dependent on the situation.
- Spray the area with a mister. The mister tends to be more fun given the sensation is unique and sort of like a light rain.
- Use a cool pack. You can just put some ice in a bag and wrap it with a cloth in a pinch. But our number 1 solution is to buy a set of cute cool packs.
They live in the freezer, but don’t get so cold that I worry about putting it against our baby’s skin.
Our toddler (now 2.5) runs to the refrigerator / freezer and pulls them out when he is itchy. It’s a godsend! And he loves the cute animal shapes, so it’s never a fuss to get him to use it.
6. Get your baby to a cooler environment
If your baby has itchy skin all over, try to get your little one into a cooler environment to stop your baby from scratching.
Sometimes, on hot days, that means just wandering around the mall or shopping center with air conditioning. We also plan on what restaurants we frequent depending on whether or not we know the restaurant will be cool inside.
At home, we have a standard Dyson fan because it’s safe for little fingers – no spinning blades. When we have an itchy baby, we sit him in front of it to quickly cool him off. We also have a portable air conditioning unit so we can just use it in the room he is in.
If I could do it over again, I’d buy either a Dyson fans with air purifier or Dyson fan with built in humidifier. As it is now, we have stand alone units for each – a fan, an air purifier and a humidifier because we bought them at separate times.
I know, the air conditioning unit and a bladeless fan are expensive! But they are 100% worth it if you are always trying to relieve your baby’s itchy skin.
To me, less scratching means less open skin wounds. And that means less chance my baby’s eczema can become infected or worse. Plus our baby’s eczema is likely going to last for years, so we feel that those purchases are completely worth the cost (think about the monthly cost over three years and it’ll seem worthwhile).
7. Give your baby a bath. A soak in water can help rehydrate itchy dry skin.
If my baby has itchy skin all over, and distractions and cooling off hasn’t helped, we go straight into the bath tub.
I soak him for twelve minutes in the bath with a bath oil. We use Oilatum Junior Bath Additive per our dermatologist. And we set the timer because soaking for too long can dry out the skin too.
As soon as he comes out of the bath, we apply a layer of lotion to trap the moisture and hydrate the skin.
8. Try to get your baby to take a nap to sleep away the itch
Telling you to get an itchy baby to take a nap might seem fruitless. But tiredness is often a trigger for itchiness.
If I suspect our baby is tired, I will get him to nap. This is often against my better judgement, because that means I end up letting him nap at odd times. And if he naps too late in the day, it definitely affects his bedtime.
But for me, I’d rather my baby nap at 4 PM, instead of scratch from 4 PM – 7 PM and be miserable as I “keep him up” until his bedtime.
9. Use an under mattress vibrating pad or vibrating cuddle toy
Changing the sensation to the skin can be enough distraction to calm an itch. Using a vibrating mattress pad, baby rocker or cuddle toy can do the trick.
Our baby slept in a vibrating rocker like this all the time. Movement helps babies sleep, but I’m also convinced the gentle tickle of the vibration made his skin feel less itchy.
10. If you can’t stop the scratching, minimize the damage from it
It would be great if we could always get our eczema babies to stop scratching itchy skin.
But realistically, it’s often more about minimizing the damage from scratching rather than helping our baby stop scratching entirely.
In the beginning, when he was a baby, it was basically covering up his hands. We started out with socks, but quickly realized the inconvenience of socks as they always fall off and even worse, repeated scratching against the sock fibers themselves can actually cause some serious skin damage too.
So we then tried ScratchSleeves, which were helpful because the mittens over the hands are made of silk, so repeated rubbing against the skin is still soft and safe.
Everything about ScratchSleeves are high quality from the silk mittens to the cotton used. It is all a bit thicker, so these were particularly nice during the winter when it was colder overall.
We were eventually prescribed Dermasilk pajamas from the NHS, which are amazing light silk pajamas. For babies and toddlers, the Dermasilk pajamas have mittens that can cover up the hands, so we can wear them right after the bath, keep his hands open when reading books, then close them up when it’s time for bed.
Even if the mittens are closed, we’ve found that the material is so light, he can actually still grab things pretty well.
10 ways to relieve baby itchy skin
I really hope you found these 10 ways to help your baby stop scratching useful. As always, please share any tips and tricks that may have worked for your baby in the comments below.
As a recap, here are the 10 ways to help your baby stop scratching eczema:
- Use distractions to help your baby stop scratching eczema
- Give your baby something to hold in their hands
- Try self-feeding snacks that will distract and keep their fingers busy
- Apply lotion on the itchy eczema skin
- Cool off! Directly cool the skin with a mister or cool pack
- Get your baby to a cooler environment (and more humid if possible)
- Give your baby a bath as soaking in water can help rehydrate dry itchy skin
- Try to get your baby to take a nap to sleep away the itch
- Use an under mattress vibrating pad or vibrating cuddle toy
- If you can’t stop the scratching, minimize the damage from it