Are Mittens Bad For Babies? The Honest Truth

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It is an ongoing debate. You are also wondering if mittens are good or bad for babies. 

That is why you are reading this. 

Compiling a baby registry is one of the most exciting things about being a mom. It feels great crossing off those baby items every time you go to the shops. 

You will almost always find one item in every checklist for what to buy for a newborn.

Baby mittens.

Most moms often wonder if they are really necessary.

Others use them and find them useful, and others find them inconvenient. 

For most moms, it’s one of those things they buy and never use because their baby never needs them. 

Because of this, you might wonder if you should go ahead and purchase baby mittens, or if you should rather skip them. 

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Are Baby Mittens Necessary? 

Baby Wearing Mittens

Newborn scratch mittens, or baby mittens, supposedly prevent your baby from scratching their face. 

In cold weather, moms use them to cover their baby’s hands and prevent them from getting cold. 

The problem with baby mittens is that besides them being useful, they are also bad for babies. 

How? 

When your baby wears them, they tend to gather dirt and become wet from a baby’s saliva, creating a breeding ground for germs. 

This can lead to your baby getting sick.

And this can leave you wondering… 

Should you buy your little one baby mittens or not? 

As with any other baby items you buy for your little one, baby mittens have their pros and cons. 

When you do decide to use mittens, consider how they benefit your baby, as well as whether they have any unwanted effect on your little one.

Below I outline the pros and cons of baby mittens for you to take into account when making your decision.

Consider the pros and decide if they outweigh the cons before you go ahead and make that purchase.

Read Also: Safe Baby Sleep: Essential Tips for New Moms

Pros and Cons Of Baby Mittens

While newborn mittens stop scratching and keep your baby’s hands warm, they carry a safety risk.

I go over baby mitten pros and compare them with the cons below to help you decide if they are really necessary.

Baby Mittens Pros 

Here are some of the reasons why you might need scratch mittens:

Using Baby Mittens To Stop Newborn Scratching 

The primary goal of mittens is to stop babies from scratching themselves. From birth, babies don’t really have good control of their hands. 

They have jerky movements. For one reason or the other, they always end up scratching their faces. 

Sometimes the scratches are not serious and can easily go away. 

But other times your little one’s nails might scratch their eyes.

Covering those little hands prevents unwanted cuts and scratches on the face. 

You might also need newborn mittens if you haven’t managed to cut your baby’s nails and you are worried they might scratch themselves. 

Let’s face it, trying to cut your baby’s nails is a struggle on its own. It is also risky. With startles, jerky movements, and all.

From my experience, cutting a newborn baby’s nails is one of those simple but easily forgettable things to do. 

I mean, between nursing (or bottle-feeding), changing diapers, bathing your baby, and everything else on your mom’s to-do list, no one can blame you for forgetting. 

That is when baby mittens might come in handy. 

But you don’t have to turn to using mittens just because you often forget to cut your baby’s nails.

Try to cut your baby’s nails every chance you get. 

If you don’t want to do it while your baby sleeps (because who wants to risk waking a sleeping baby, right?), choose a time when your little one is calm.

If you find it risky to cut your baby’s nails, use a nail file. It is safer. 

Regular nail cutting or filing will keep those nails nice and short, always.

Bye-bye unwanted face scratching!

Read Also: Baby Hygiene Tips To Keep Your Baby Clean Without Bathing

Using Newborn Scratch Mittens To Keep Baby’s Hands Warm

Babies’ hands tend to get cold. Even during hot weather.

Now you can imagine how cold they get if left uncovered during winter. Cold hands will obviously make your baby feel uncomfortable and irritated.

To prevent this, moms often turn to baby mittens as a solution. 

However, this might not be necessary. 

Swaddling your newborn can help with keeping your baby’s delicate hands cozy and warm.

Just make sure you swaddle your baby safely

Baby Mittens Cons

Here are reasons why your baby does not need mittens: 

Baby Mittens Get Dirty

Mittens collect dirt. 

Either from your own hands or surfaces your little one comes into contact with.  

Now guess where all that dirt ends up?

You got it right! Your baby’s mouth.

This makes baby mittens unsafe for your baby.

Saliva Build-up 

Newborns have a natural ability to soothe themselves by sucking their own hands. 

The problem with a baby wearing mittens is that, whenever your little one tries to put their hands on the mouth, they obviously lick the mittens. 

And what happens? 

The mittens get wet from saliva. Saliva build-up is a breeding ground for germs. 

Your baby will definitely repeatedly put the mittens into the mouth, and be exposed to these germs each time.  

Not good at all.

Another problem is that wet mittens get cold during winter and end up making your baby’s hands cold. 

Baby Mittens Prevents Your Baby From Self-Soothing

Newborn mittens cover a baby’s hands and disturb their sense of touch. 

They form a barrier and prevent your baby from soothing themselves by licking their hands.

As mentioned before, babies are born with a natural ability to self-soothe by licking their hands.

This helps them develop their sense of touch. Babies also use their hands to explore other surfaces around them.

Covering your baby’s hands prevents them from self-soothing. It also interferes with your baby’s development in the process.

Related: Newborn Won’t Sleep? 11 Dumb Reasons You Can Easily Fix Today

Newborn Mittens Come Off Easily 

This must be the most annoying thing about using mittens! 

These things simply don’t stay in a baby’s hands. 

Unless you use the ones with an elastic band tight enough to hold onto your baby’s wrist.

Are Baby Mittens Good Or Bad For Babies? The Verdict

After considering baby mittens pros and cons, there is only one question to ask: 

Do babies need mittens? 

Not really. 

You may find them useful but they are definitely not a must-have item.

They definitely carry a safety risk for your baby. 

For that reason, I don’t consider baby mittens to be a good item for your baby to use.

When you weigh the pros and cons of baby mittens, it is evident enough that mittens are bad for babies.

The benefits simply don’t outweigh the negative impact they have on your baby’s safety and development.

Should you stop newborn scratching with baby mittens?

There is no need.

Firstly, regular cutting and filing of the nails will keep them short. 

Even if you end up forgetting to cut your baby’s nails for a few days, there is no need to worry.

Scratches from baby nails are usually not serious and often go away on their own. Without any treatment. 

Are you worried about your little one’s hands getting so cold in winter?

You can prevent cold hands in chilly weather by simply swaddling your baby to keep their hands warm. 

However, using mittens boils down to personal choice, really.

I myself have never used them with my two babies. I wouldn’t advise anyone to use them either. 

Baby mittens are a nice-to-have item. A nice-to-have item that carries safety and developmental risk for your little one. 

Do you believe mittens are bad for babies? 

Or do you think they are necessary and the pros do not outweigh the cons? 

Let me know in the comments.

Read Next:

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6 Comments

  1. Great post. I am right there with you on mittens. In fact, in the NICU my daughter stayed in the nurses, and the neonatologist advised against them. It prevents them from being able to move and stretch their hands. So many babies had to have physical therapy months later due to mittens.

    1. Thanks for your insights, Courtney. One of the reasons I stopped using them was because it just seemed like my baby was not free to use her hands. It’s alarming to hear that babies actually have had to have therapy because of this.

  2. I hated the mittens. I may have used them the first few days but after that I left them untouched. And for my second baby, I didn’t use any.

    1. Thanks, Katie. Same here. Used them probably two times with my newborn and I just decided “nope”…and I’ve never had any reason to use them.

  3. Baby mittens are just another one of those cute little things that manufacturers try to convince new parents they need for their babies.

    I have seen pro/con lists that say BOTH that wearing mittens keeps a baby’s hands clean so they don’t get sick from “dirt”—and that mittens get damp from baby’s mouth and then dirt sticks to them and ends up in the baby’s mouth, making them sick. Which is it? (answer: neither)

    Babies don’t need mittens. Billions of babies have survived a tiny scratch or two on their faces without any medical intervention at all. No need to spend money on something that is being touted as a preventive measure for a health risk that isn’t an actual health risk.

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