Sleep Mittens for 6 Month Old Babies
What Are Sleep Mittens and Why Use Them?
Sleep mittens are little gloves or mittens designed for babies to wear while sleeping. They cover the hands and prevent babies from scratching their face and eyes. Babies have very sharp little fingernails that can easily cause injury if they scratch themselves, especially around sensitive areas like the eyes.
Sleep mittens protect babies in the following ways:
- Prevent Scratching: Sleep mittens act as a barrier between baby’s nails and their skin. This helps avoid accidental scratches and injuries, especially on the face.
- Reduce Face-Touching: Some babies frequently touch and rub their faces. Sleep mittens prevent this face-touching habit.
- Protect Skin: Babies often have very delicate skin. Sleep mittens guard their skin from getting damaged from sharp nails.
- Prevent Infection: Scratches on a baby’s face could allow bacteria to enter and cause an infection. Sleep mittens help avoid this.
- Allow Healing: If a baby already has a scratch or rash on their face, sleep mittens can protect the area and promote faster healing without disruption.
At around 6 months of age, most babies still cannot control their hand movements or coordinate their limbs effectively. But their fingernails have grown quite long and sharp by this stage. So sleep mittens continue to be useful for protecting your 6 month old’s sensitive facial skin.
When Can Babies Start Using Sleep Mittens?
Most parents introduce sleep mittens:
- Within the first month after birth
- Once baby’s fingernails start growing in more fully
- If signs of facial scratching appear
Premature babies or newborns with extra sharp nails may benefit from mittens right away in the hospital after birth.
You can try sleep mittens on your baby and monitor to see if they are needed. Not all babies scratch themselves the same amount. If your baby hardly touches their face, sleep mittens may not be necessary.
But for most babies, starting sleep mittens anytime from 0-2 months is appropriate. By 6 months, sleep mittens are often still very helpful at night.
Benefits of Using Sleep Mittens for 6 Month Old Babies
Here are some key benefits of continuing to use sleep mittens for your 6 month old:
1. Protect Delicate Facial Skin
A 6 month old’s skin is still very delicate and needs protection. Their nails will likely be quite long and sharp at this stage. Scratching can damage the fragile skin on baby’s cheeks, nose, eyes and ears. Sleep mittens provide a shield against this potential scratching.
2. Avoid Infection
Scratches or micro-abrasions on a 6 month old’s face could allow bacteria to enter and cause an infection. Redness, swelling, oozing and crusting can occur. Sleep mittens help avoid introducing any germs to sensitive facial areas.
3. Allow Healing
If your 6 month old already has a facial rash, scratch, or skin condition like baby acne or eczema, sleep mittens can protect the area at night. This gives the skin a chance to heal without being disrupted.
4. Prevent Eye Injuries
Eyes are very fragile. A 6 month old could accidentally scratch their eye area and cause damage to the cornea or conjunctiva. Sleep mittens provide a barrier to avoid this harm.
5. Stop Face-Touching Habits
Some babies frequently rub and touch their faces, which can create irritation or spread germs. Sleep mittens worn at 6 months can curb this habit before it gets ingrained.
6. Promote Better Sleep
The startle reflex is still active at 6 months. When babies accidently scratch themselves, it can wake them up fully. Sleep mittens prevent disruptions so baby and parents get more rest.
As you can see, sleep mittens continue to be very beneficial even after the newborn stage, especially for protecting facial skin and eyes.
When Should Sleep Mittens Be Stopped?
Most pediatricians recommend discontinuing sleep mittens between 6-12 months old. Here are some signs your baby may be ready to stop wearing mittens at night:
- They can remove the mittens themselves.
- They are not scratching their face frequently.
- Their fingernails can be trimmed and filed smooth.
- They are starting to intentionally grasp objects. This is an important developmental milestone.
You may wish to try a few nights without mittens to monitor if baby is scratching. Go back to using them if needed.
Around 12 months, most babies have better control of their limbs and can keep their hands away from their face. At this point, sleep mittens usually become unnecessary and can be discontinued.
Of course, all babies develop on their own schedule. If signs of face scratching continue past 12 months, discuss extended sleep mitten use with your pediatrician.
Choosing the Best Sleep Mittens for a 6 Month Old
Here are factors to consider when selecting sleep mittens for your 6 month old:
- Size: Ensure you get mittens suitable for a 6 month old’s hands and wrists. Measure for a snug fit.
- Material: Breathable cotton, microfiber or jersey works well. Avoid plastic-y materials that could cause overheating.
- Safety: Choose mittens approved for sleep use with tight-fitting wrists. Avoid any choking hazards.
- Closures: Look for adjustable Velcro closures to ensure a secure fit.
- Long sleeves: Mittens with long sleeves stay on more securely than wrist-only ones.
- Mitten shape: Rounded mittens are safer. Some mittens have separated fingers which can come off.
- Machine washable: Pick sleep mittens that are machine washable for easy cleaning.
- Organic: For sensitive skin, choose organic cotton mittens, if possible.
The HALO SleepSack Mittens and Zutano Cozie Fleece Sleep Mittens are both excellent choices that meet these criteria.
Using Sleep Mittens Correctly and Safely
To use sleep mittens properly for your 6 month old:
- Put mittens on baby at the start of naptime or bedtime routines. Make sure wrists are covered.
- Check sizing regularly as baby grows. Mittens should fit snugly but not too tight.
- Only use mittens when supervised. Remove immediately after sleep periods.
- Prevent overheating. Use breathable cotton mittens and light blankets.
- Do not use once baby can roll over fully or push up on hands and knees.
- Never use mittens on a standing, crawling, or walking child.
- Watch that mittens do not expose thumbs. Thumbs can still reach the face.
- Check each morning for red marks from mittens being too tight.
- Wash mittens routinely for hygiene. Check for wear and tear. Discard if any holes develop.
- Remove and trim nails regularly. Very long nails can still scratch through mittens.
With proper precautions, sleep mitten use can continue to be safe for 6 month old babies under supervision. Discontinue use if any safety concerns arise.
Alternatives to Sleep Mittens for Older Babies
If your 6 month old no longer tolerates sleep mittens, some alternatives to try include:
- Breathable bandages: Protect fingertips by wrapping soft bandages around them. Avoid tight wrapping.
- Socks over hands: Use infant socks to cover hands loosely. Ensure baby can easily remove them.
- Cloth glovelettes: These are partial gloves with open fingers good for transitioning away from full mittens.
- Trimmed, filed nails: Keep nails very short and smooth. Use an emery board daily.
- Cotton sleepwear: Put baby to bed in a soft cotton one-piece sleeper to avoid scratches.
- Pacifier: Sucking a pacifier helps keep hands away from the face.
Discuss any concerns with your pediatrician before making changes. Monitor baby closely when trying alternatives to ensure safety.
Frequently Asked Questions about Sleep Mittens for Older Babies
Here are answers to some common questions parents have about sleep mittens:
Are sleep mittens safe for my 6 month old?
Yes, mittens are safe when used properly under supervision on babies not yet rolling over or pushing up on hands and knees. Never use on standing or mobile babies.
Won’t mittens interfere with development by limiting hand movement?
No. Sleep mittens are only worn during supervised sleep, not during awake play time. This allows plenty of opportunity for babies to use their hands freely at other times of day.
What if my baby refuses to keep mittens on?
For resistant babies, try other mitten styles or alternatives like socks/glovelettes. And focus on keeping nails short and filed smooth. Ultimately you cannot force a baby to wear mittens if they will not tolerate them.
Can I make my own homemade sleep mittens?
Homemade mittens may not secure well on baby’s wrists. It’s recommended to purchase approved mittens designed specifically for sleep use for safety reasons.
What do I do if my baby keeps scratching with mittens on?
Check sizing and ensure mittens are tight enough around the wrists. You may need to transition to an alternative method if scratching persists with mittens.
When exactly should I stop using sleep mittens?
Most pediatricians recommend discontinuing sleep mittens between 6-12 months old as baby gains mobility and better limb control. Remove immediately if any safety hazard.
What are signs my baby no longer needs sleep mittens?
Signs include removing mittens themselves, decreased scratching, ability to trim/file nails smoothly, starting to intentionally grasp objects, and when rolling/pushing up to hands and knees.
So in summary, sleep mittens can continue to be useful for many 6 month old babies under supervision. Work closely with your pediatrician to determine when your baby is developmentally ready to discontinue mittens based on their own growth and progress. With diligent nail care and monitoring, you can protect your baby’s sensitive skin while also supporting their developing motor skills.