Why babies hate having their face wiped, and what can you do about it?
Baby wipe, baby wash cloth or flannel, it’s no surprise that no matter which of these you’re using, one of the most common reactions from your baby or toddler to having her face wiped at the end of a meal is tears. But have you stopped to think why? Here we unpick the answers to why babies dislike having their faces wiped and explore why this doesn’t need to be the norm. We also look at why choosing the right baby wash cloth is essential to improving this experience for you and baby. Tears during the mealtime clean up are generally due to a combination of two reasons:
- Wiping feels uncomfortable
During weaning, babies’ sensitive skin can become incredibly sore, particularly around their mouth and chin. Taking a damp cloth to sore skin is never going to raise a smile!
- Nature kicks in
The action of wiping your baby’s face with a flannel, wash cloth or wipe, covers their nose and mouth simultaneously. Babies have an innate aversion to having their airways covered; think of it as a natural defence mechanism. So, turning her head, getting upset, squirming in her highchair– these are all natural, physiological responses to the expectation of an uncomfortable, or even innately harmful, action.
So now we understand why babies turn on the tears as they see the wipes approaching, what can we do about it?
- Leave the clean up right to the end
Unless food is in their eyes, try to resist the urge to wipe or scrape food from your baby’s face or hands. The sensation of food on their skin, even in their hair, is a great learning experience. Babies learn most quickly when they use all their senses to explore. Allowing your baby to experience food using all their senses gives them more opportunity to learn and enjoy the benefits of a sensory weaning approach.
- Let your baby take the lead
When it comes to the clean-up, letting your baby help to clean themselves is a sure-fire way to end on a high. Finishing mealtimes as you start them – with smiles, excitement and fun – all help your baby to build a positive relationship with food, which will count for so much as they grow. Our Bamboo Wash Mitts are perfectly sized for this job – use the adult mitt on your own hand and place the smaller one on your baby so they can have a go! You’ll be amazed at how quickly they learn to follow your lead. And all the while they are practicing, they’re strengthening their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills to boot!
- Be aware of sensitive skin
Delicate skin needs looking after gently. We recommend using a re-usable wipe for the mealtime clean up rather than disposable ones – even the gentler water-based variety. Look for re-usable wipes made from Bamboo - which is naturally antibacterial and kind to sensitive skin, as well as being kind to the planet.
- Have the right equipment.
Using a mitt instead of a washcloth or flannel to wipe your baby’s face helps you to wipe only where you need to. You can avoid covering baby’s nose and mouth simultaneously and use controlled movements to delicately wipe away left over food. Our adult sized mitts are just right for this job and designed to stay beautifully soft.
- Make it fun
Make the experience fun and engaging, by singing a song or playing peek-a-boo, can help distract your baby and make the process more enjoyable. With the right baby wash cloth and a little creativity, cleaning your baby's face can become a stress-free and even enjoyable experience. Our Bamboo baby mitts are shaped into 3 cute animal designs tiger, bird and rabbit – for worlds of fun as you wash.
Tidy Tot Bamboo Wash Mitts are £15.95 per set and are available to buy here