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Is It Safe For Your Baby To Wear Mittens To Bed?

by Lindsay E. Mack

For such tiny humans, babies can have absolute talons for fingernails. Even with regular trimmings, it's easy for your baby's tiny nails to become sharp and scratchy (as anyone who comes within gripping distance of your baby's hand can soon attest). Unfortunately, your baby's nails may also scratch his delicate skin, especially when he's in the depths of sleep. To help prevent those little scratches, is it safe for your baby to wear mittens to bed? This sounds like a straightforward question, but its responses can get seriously divisive.

As with basically every parenting topic on the planet, the responses are split. According to the National Sleep Foundation, soft mittens may help prevent your newborn from scratching at his face while asleep. And even the U.S. National Library of Medicine recommends mittens as a good way to help prevent your baby from scratching up his face (although the site does not specifically recommend or advise against their use for when your baby is sleeping.) So it may seem like safety mittens are the way to go.

But not everyone is a proponent of sleep mittens for babies. As pediatrician David Geller explained in Baby Center, babies need free use of their hands for developmental purposes, and infants are unlikely to cause serious damage by scratching at themselves while sleeping. Trimming and filing your baby's nails may be enough of a safety precaution. However, keeping a little one's fingernails in check is not all that easy; your newborn doesn't have a ton of control over his limbs and may flail about, as noted in Baby Center, unless you are able to trim them while the baby is sleeping. Sometimes it just feels like your little one is bent of self-destruction, despite your best efforts.

So what's a concerned parent to do? Whatever seems best for your little one. Although there is a tremendous amount of debate about the sleep mittens subject on parenting forums, it looks like this is a topic that would benefit from further research. In the meantime, you can turn to your trusted team of child care professionals to get their opinion.