The Benefits and Drawbacks of Newborn Baby Mittens
There are so many things to learn as a new parent. Loads of everyday things become worrisome, from bath times to nail trimmings. For something so small and so delicate, baby nails are like sharp razors. As babies learn to control their movements, they wiggle and squirm all over the place. Their hands are almost always near their faces. And as a result, new popular trend is developing: baby mittens.
Why Use Baby Mitts?
Beyond looking incredibly cute, there is a reason why parents are choosing to cover their newborn’s hands. The idea behind baby mittens is to keep the razor sharp nails from harming the delicate skin on their faces. And it’s a good idea! No one wants to gaze down at their new little bundle of joy and see anything that might cause them pain or discomfort.
Baby nails grow fast, and cutting them can be a terrifying experience. Even with baby safety nail trimmers it can feel like one wrong move can cause serious harm. So it makes sense to cover up their little hands, so they can move and snuggle and explore their world without harming their sensitive skin.
Some sleep experts will recommend using cotton baby mittens for safe sleep. During the day we can keep our baby from scratching themselves but it can be harder when they are sleeping. After all, when your baby is sleeping you’re generally catching up on sleep, or household chores, or taking a minute for yourself…or your other children.
Baby mittens are sold as stand alone accessories and come in all sorts of patterns. They are also being added onto the sleeves of onesies and infant pajamas. When it comes to this popular new trend, parents have loads of options. And they’re quickly becoming the hot new accessory the way pacifier clips or hair bows once were.
Are Baby Mittens Actually Harmful?
When I had my first ultrasound, my technician explained to me that our baby’s face is actually their first “toy” while they are in the womb. It’s no wonder then, that they continue to touch and feel, and play with their face after they’ve been born.
Babies' eyesight is still developing when they are born, so much of the way they explore and take in the world around them is through other sensory input, like touch. Touch is an important learning tool and helps babies develop.
When it comes time to breastfeed, babies use their hands to help find and latch onto mom’s nipple. Watch your little one as they root around and try to find your breast the next time they are hungry. Their little hands are a big part of this experience.
By touching and feeling the world around them, and then putting their hands into their mouths, babies are actually taking in good and bad bacteria. This bacteria helps their little bodies grow and develop.
While some safe sleep experts will tout the benefits of these mittens to prevent scratching, others point out that they are a choking hazard. If the mittens come off of the baby’s hands, they can become a danger. Additionally some mittens have draw strings or other bits of decoration that can also become hazards.
When we cover our infants' hands, no matter how good or pure our intentions, we are taking away a major developmental tool. Imagine taking away your toddler’s lovely or security blanket. Close your eyes and try to explore a room you’ve never been in before. That’s essentially what putting teeny tiny mittens on your baby is doing. In trying to offer a simple, safe, and comfortable way to protect our babies, we are really depriving them and potentially causing anxiety.
But not covering their hands still leaves us with the problem of their sharp little, ever growing nails. So what are we to do? Check out this post for tips for tearless nail trimming so that you can confidently help your baby learn and grow! We’ve packed it full of helpful tips like trimming their nails during or shortly after a feeding when your baby is squirming less.
If you are worried about safe sleep, swaddling is a great alternative to mittens. It goes one step further than preventing babies from scratching their faces. Swaddling also keeps babies from startling themselves awake, resulting in better sleep.