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It’s not easy to know how to dress your baby for each season, especially in the winter months. The cold weather is tough to navigate with a baby, but you will still want to get outside and explore with them. Luckily, there are lots of warm, practical clothes and accessories for babies to wear. Plus, babies have a habit of scratching their faces and getting dirty too. Baby mittens can help with those things.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of baby mittens, sometimes called scratch mittens, both to keep your little one warm this winter and to stop them from scratching themselves.
What are the pros and cons of baby mittens?
- Most newborn baby mittens are designed to stop babies from scratching themselves. Often, young babies move their hands around their face and sometimes they end up with a nasty scratch or cut. This happened with my son Daniel quite a bit when he was a newborn, often when we put him down for a nap. Newborn nails grow fast and scratches happen more often than you’d think. Baby mittens help protect their delicate skin.
- Baby mittens keep your baby’s hands warm.
- You can easily take mittens on and off your baby as needed. They don’t require a whole outfit change to add or take them away.
- Some parents like to use baby mittens to protect their little one from harmful bacteria. The idea is that the mittens prevent babies from putting dirty hands in their mouths.
- Baby mittens help babies with eczema or other skin conditions to avoid scratches or rubs to their skin. This can avoid further irritation.
- There is a risk that your baby will get a loose thread in their mouth and swallow it, or worse, choke on the fabric.
- Baby mittens are small and often fall off easily. Therefore, mittens easily get lost. Just like socks, there are so many occasions when I can only find a single mitten or glove for either of my kids and it always happens when I’m in a rush in the morning!
- Mittens get dirty too, just like hands. It is not an instant process to wash mittens, unlike handwashing which can be done as often as you like and almost immediately.
- Some people believe that babies should be exposed to bacteria to build their immune system and mittens could be a barrier to this
- Some parents find that when babies wear mittens, it interferes with their ability to grasp objects and toys
- Mittens stop babies’ hands from moving freely which some argue is part of their development and the way in which they make sense of the world
Do baby mittens hinder your child’s development?
Most experts agree that the long term use of baby mittens can hinder your baby’s development. Babies use their hands and fingers to explore the world and develop fine motor skills. Their ability to explore the world with their hands is limited when their hands are covered for long periods of time with mittens, and this intensifies over many weeks and months. So if you decide mittens are right for your baby, make sure they do not wear them all the time so they have opportunities to play with their hands in between.
However, if your child has an itchy case of eczema or another skin condition, using specialist baby mittens may be the best course of action. There are specially made mittens and sleeves designed for babies and young children who need them. Ask your doctor for advice on this.
Mittens for outdoor use are also a good idea and won’t have a negative impact on your child’s development for a short time each day. Sometimes, we all need gloves or mittens to stay warm on a cold day.
When should your baby stop wearing mittens? How long can they use them?
Your baby should stop wearing mittens after a few weeks so that they can have their hands free to develop motor skills and explore. When they are outdoors in the cold, your baby will wear mittens or gloves all the way through into adulthood.
How do you stop them coming off?
Choose mittens with good elastic wristbands that help the mittens stay on your baby’s hands. Pull them over other layers or tuck them carefully under clothes to help them stay in place.
Alternatively, choose all-in-one sleepsuits or babygrows that have built in hand covers that you fold over your baby’s hand. Lots of outdoor suits also have these covers built in, as do some vests, onesies and long sleeved shirts. Since the covers are sewn into the clothing they will not come off. These covers are a great option to keep little ones warm when you go outside too.
Can you make baby mittens yourself?
Technically, yes you can. The trick here is to make sure that homemade baby mittens do not have any loose threads or stitching. This is because babies will put their hands, and therefore their mittens, in their mouths and you do not want them to ingest any loose threads or fabric.
Since they often fall off, many parents like to use mittens that attach to their baby’s coat for outdoor use. Some coats come with snaps or the traditional elastic connectors that loop through the back of a coat. These can work well too.
What are scratch mittens? Are they necessary?
Scratch mittens are very thin baby mittens. They are designed to stop newborn babies from scratching their faces in their very early days. Scratch mittens are not necessary, but if you do use them make sure to choose a well made pair and monitor your baby when they wear them.
Related Post: Should Babies Sleep In Hats And Socks?
Conclusion – Are baby mittens necessary?
Baby mittens come in a few different varieties. Baby mittens to prevent scratching are not strictly necessary and each parent will have their own preference. There are alternatives to baby mittens to help prevent scratches, such as sewn in hand covers found on lots of long sleeved baby clothing.
Some experts argue that baby mittens are not needed at all. This is to avoid the risk of swallowing fabric or slowing down a baby’s development. Others feel like mittens are harmless, so long as babies don’t use them for a long time. And of course, there are some children for whom the benefits of not scratching irritated skin mean that mittens are a good idea overall. Do your research and make the decision that’s best for your baby.
However, baby mittens or an alternative may be necessary to keep your baby warm on a cold day. Look for mittens with strong elastic wrists or coat snaps to help them stay on your baby. Whatever you do, don’t become too attached to them as baby mittens tend to come and go! They are small and babies move around a lot so mittens easily get lost.
Anna is a mum of three who loves exploring the outdoors with her family and border collie. She has an MA in Childhood and Youth Development.