Baby Rubbing Face While Sleeping – Causes And Solutions

The sight of a sleeping baby is often a source of comfort and joy.

However, as parents or caregivers, you may occasionally observe your little one engaging in peculiar behaviors, such as your baby rubbing face while sleeping.

While this behavior may raise questions and concerns, it is a common issue.

Understanding why babies rub their faces while sleeping can provide insight into their development and well-being.

In this discussion, let’s explore the reasons behind this behavior, ranging from self-soothing techniques to potential sources of discomfort.

Why Does Your Baby Rubbing Face While Sleeping? 

baby rubbing face while sleeping

Why do babies rub their face when sleeping? 

Babies may rub their faces while sleeping for various reasons. Some common causes include self-soothing, itching or discomfort, teething, a part of their developmental stage, and a sign of hunger. 

Let’s continue reading for the details!


A newborn rubbing face is due to self-soothing; doing so provides a sense of comfort and security. They learn to regulate their emotions and manage stress as they grow and develop.

Self-soothing is an essential skill for infants to learn, and it can help them fall asleep and stay asleep more easily.

Additionally, face rubbing may provide a familiar and comforting sensation, similar to how a baby may suck on a pacifier or their fingers.

Face rubbing while self-soothing is a natural and common behavior for babies. As they grow, they will continue to explore different ways to soothe themselves and regulate their emotions.

Parents can help their kids feel safe, secure, and well-rested by understanding and supporting their self-soothing behaviors.

Itching or Discomfort

A baby aggressively rubbing face signals his/her itching or discomfort, and it is their instinctive response to alleviate the irritation they are experiencing.

Babies are susceptible to sensitive skin conditions such as dry skin, eczema, or rashes, which can leave them irritated or itchy.

Moreover, allergies to certain foods, environmental factors, or substances can cause itching and pain in children.

Rubbing the face is an instinct to relieve the itching sensation and find temporary relief.

If your little one is rubbing their face due to itching or discomfort, it is important to identify and address the underlying cause.


What is the point of a baby rubbing face while sleeping waking up? Maybe she is in pain.

When babies are teething, they may rub their faces as a way to cope with the discomfort and pain associated with the process.

Here are a few reasons why babies may rub their faces while teething:

  • Counterpressure: Rubbing their face provides counterpressure against the erupting teeth. The pressure applied by rubbing can help relieve some of the discomfort in the gums brought by the teeth pushing through.
  • Distraction: Babies may scratch their faces as a distraction from teething discomfort. The rubbing action can divert their attention and temporarily ease the teething pain.
  • Nerve Stimulation: Rubbing the face stimulates the nerve endings around the face and gums. This sensory stimulation may help override or temporarily lessen the agony, especially for wrong-order teething.

Developmental Stage

It can be a natural part of their exploration and discovery process when kids scrape their faces during their developmental stage.

Babies are curious beings constantly learning about their bodies and their world. Rubbing their faces may allow them to explore different sensations and textures.

By touching and rubbing their faces, they become more aware of their facial features and better understand their bodies.

Exploring their face and rubbing it can be linked to the cognitive development of babies.

By observing the cause-and-effect relationship of their actions, they start to understand that their movements can lead to certain outcomes or sensations.

This cognitive learning process contributes to their overall development.

Hungry Babies

In case of a baby constantly rubbing face while resting, it can be a sign of hunger cues or a way to express their hunger:

  • Seeking attention: Rubbing their face can be a way for babies to get their caregiver’s attention and communicate their hunger. It may be their instinctual response to signal that they need to be fed.
  • Association with feeding: Babies may have learned that rubbing their faces gets them a feeding response.

If they had previously received attention and been fed when they rubbed their face, they might continue this behavior as an attempt to initiate feeding.

What To Do When Your Baby Rubs Face While Sleeping?

why do babies rub their face when sleeping

Observe And Assess

Pay attention to your baby’s overall behavior and well-being.

By closely observing your little one, you can try to identify any specific triggers or patterns that lead to face rubbing.

It could be related to certain situations, environments, or times of the day. Understanding these triggers can help you take proactive measures to prevent or address them.

Address Underlying Issues

After paying attention to your baby, you will try to guess what makes your infant rub.

If your baby’s face rubbing is due to itching, discomfort, or irritation, identify the possible causes. It could be dry skin, allergies, eczema, or other skin conditions.

In case you cannot know, consult a pediatrician to determine the underlying cause and seek appropriate treatments or remedies.

Offer A Pacifier Or Teething Toy

A pacifier can provide a soothing and comforting sensation for babies.

It offers a sucking action that can help distract them from face rubbing and provide an alternative self-soothing method.

The presence of this tool in their mouth can also prevent them from rubbing their face, as their hands may naturally gravitate towards the pacifier instead.

I also give my little monster a teething toy, which can be helpful if my baby is rubbing her face due to teething discomfort.

Teething toys are specifically designed to soothe sore gums and provide a safe object for babies to chew on.

Redirecting their focus to the teething toy can eliminate the urge to rub their face and provide relief from teething pain.

Create A Comfortable Sleep Environment

Ensure that your baby’s sleep environment is optimal for their comfort.

Use breathable bedding, maintain a suitable room temperature, and keep the air humidified if necessary to prevent dryness in the air that can contribute to skin irritation.

From my experience, I recommend dressing your baby in soft, comfortable fabrics that won’t cause additional irritation to the skin.

Loose-fitting clothing can help minimize friction and reduce the chances of face rubbing during sleep.

Consult With A Pediatrician

However, when my baby had some warning signs, such as excessive crying, I immediately contacted a doctor. After only 2 days of following the advice, these symptoms reduced.

If you’re concerned about your baby’s face rubbing or if it persists despite your efforts to address it, consult a pediatrician.

They can provide personalized advice, examine your baby, and rule out any underlying issues or conditions requiring further attention.


newborn rubbing face

How To Prevent Your Baby From Scratching Their Face At Night?

Preventing your baby from scratching everything generally and their face at night particularly can help avoid potential skin irritation or injury.

Here are some tips to help prevent your kids from scratching their face:

  • Opt for Onesies with Fold-Over Cuffs: Choose onesies or sleepers that have fold-over cuffs on the sleeves. These cuffs can cover your baby’s hands, preventing access to their face and limiting the chances of scratching.
  • Make A Soothing Bedtime: Establish a calming rest that helps your baby relax before sleep. This can include activities like a warm bath, gentle massage, or soft lullabies, which may alleviate restlessness and the urge to scratch.
  • Provide Comforting Toys or Loveys: Offer your baby a soft or comforting toy to hold onto during sleep. A tactile object to touch and a cuddle can redirect their hand movements away from their face.

Why Does My 3-Month-Old Baby Rubbing Head With Hands?

If your 3-month-old baby keeps rubbing her head, it could be due to a few different reasons:

  • Self-Soothing: This is the same as rubbing the face. Babies often engage in self-soothing behaviors to comfort themselves.
  • Exploration: Babies at this age are developing their senses and motor skills. Rubbing their head could be a way for them to explore their own body and the sensations it provides. It’s a part of their natural curiosity and developmental exploration.
  • Hair Sensation: If your baby has a full head of hair, rubbing her head may be due to the tactile sensation of the hair against her skin. The texture of the hair can be intriguing to her, and she might be enjoying the sensory experience.

Why Babies Rubs Eyes In Sleep?

If your baby’s eyes or nose are irritated due to dryness, allergies, or a stuffy nose, they may rub these areas in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort.

It can be their instinctual response to relieve itching, clear congestion, or soothe any irritation they are experiencing.

Rubbing the eyes can also be a sign of tiredness or fatigue. It may be a baby’s way of signaling that they are sleepy and ready for a nap or bedtime.


The act of a baby rubbing face while sleeping can be intriguing and sometimes concerning for parents and caregivers.

However, it is important to understand that, in most cases, this behavior is completely normal and part of a baby’s developmental journey.

As caregivers, observing your baby’s behavior closely and looking for any signs of distress or discomfort is essential.

If the face rubbing appears excessive, accompanied by other concerning symptoms, or interferes with your baby’s sleep or well-being, consult with a pediatrician.

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