Baby Aggressively Rubbing Face All Of A Sudden? [Why?]

baby aggressively rubbing face

Babies are bundles of cuteness, but they are also very unpredictable. One moment they are all calm and cute and smiling, and the next moment they are fidgety, cranky, and crying. If you are a new mom, we are sure you are calling the pediatrician every time your baby does something weird or you notice strange behavior. It’s normal to get anxious. While most of the time these strange behaviors are nothing, sometimes there are reasons why babies behave in certain ways. One such thing is a baby aggressively rubbing their face, and this is a thing of concern for every new mom.

Sometimes babies tend to rub their faces aggressively, but this behavior is absolutely normal and very common. Before we get into details, here are the three main reasons why babies aggressively rub their faces. They are:

  1. Tired
  2. Itchy
  3. Teething

Understanding the reason behind your baby’s face-rubbing behavior is important so that you can help them. Let’s get into detail about the baby’s skin, why they rub their face aggressively, and what you can do to help them and prevent them from doing it.

Tired Baby Aggressively Rubbing Face

As new parents, you are anxious because you want to do everything perfectly and make sure the little one is doing fine and you are not messing anything up. But honestly, every mom out there is doing her best, and so are you! Don’t beat yourself up just because your baby might have scratched their face while accidentally rubbing their face. It happens with every newborn!

Babies rely on gestures and signs to communicate and rubbing their face aggressively can be a sign that your infant is feeling tired.

We adults also rub our eyes when we are tired or sleepy. That’s because our eyes feel heavy. Babies also rub their eyes, ears, and face when they feel tired and are ready to hit the bed!

If your baby is rubbing his face and then combines it by snuggling with his/her favorite stuffed animal or with you, then it is a clear sign that they need to sleep. If your baby is nearing bedtime or has had a tiring day and you notice them aggressively rubbing their face, then don’t worry. Simply remove everything that can stimulate them or make them hyper and help them fall asleep however they are comfortable.

Rubbing their eyes or ears is a baby’s way to self-soothe and relax their body down to sleep. Keep an eye out for these signs and you will be able to help your baby.

Itchy Baby Aggressively Rubbing Face

Being itchy is one more common reason why babies start rubbing their faces aggressively. Sometimes dry skin or flaky skin can make babies rub their faces. You can use a moisturizer or coconut oil or any other baby-friendly cream to soothe the skin and reduce dryness.

The problem here is the lack of motor skills and coordination. If your baby is only two or three months old, they have zero control over their hand movements and a simple act of rubbing their nose or maybe an itch on their face can become a full-blown face scratching experience. 

Babies usually develop motor skills between three and four months, but even then, their hand coordination is not that great. This might make the baby’s hands reach their eyes when they want to rub their nose or vice versa.

This lack of motor skills and coordination can also make babies scratch their faces accidentally. If you notice your little one scratching their face aggressively and they have just had a nap and you are sure they are not tired, then try helping them by wiping their face to relieve them from any kind of scratchy feeling.

If you notice that your baby is rubbing their face too aggressively and it is followed by crankiness, then it might be because of allergies. If you have used a new brand of soap or shampoo, it may have caused baby’s sensitive skin to react. Sometimes even a new food can cause an allergic reaction and this might make your baby rub their face aggressively. 

Consult a pediatrician immediately if you notice this rubbing followed by rashes or a mild fever. Always make sure you buy hypoallergenic baby products and baby skin-friendly. This will keep your baby’s skin healthy and rule out any kind of allergic reactions.

If your baby is aggressively rubbing their face and also their ears, and it is not a case of itchy skin or just being tired, check their ears. If you think your baby has an ear infection, consult your pediatrician immediately.

Teething Baby Aggressively Rubbing Face

If your little one can’t seem to stop rubbing his or her face and is aggressively doing it in and around their cheeks or mouth area, this could be a sign that they are teething.

This is another reason that babies aggressively start rubbing their faces. During teething, the baby’s gum line is sore and sensitive. To self-soothe, they tend to rub their faces all day long.

The first teeth that sprout out will make your tot look adorable and parents usually eagerly wait for this major milestone, but teething can be tough and painful for the baby and the mom. Babies act cranky and irritated and are ready to bite on anything to soothe those sore and sensitive gums. Look out for these emotional cues to figure out if your baby is rubbing their face because of teething.

Teething is part of your baby’s developmental milestones. If you see your baby rubbing and rubbing their face all day, then don’t worry. They are just trying to soothe themselves.

Baby Rubbing Face Against Me?

baby aggressively rubbing face

As a new mom, we are sure you look forward to those adorable cuddles with your little one. Babies love snuggling and so do we because they are so cushy, soft, and just adorable!

Sometimes you might notice that your baby might suddenly start rubbing their face against you. One moment they might be playing and smiling and the next they might just be butting their head and face against you. This is completely normal!

This is just their way of getting close to you. Babies feel the need to be close to their mom at times, and they do this by using their sense of smell. If you notice your baby’s face rubbing against you, again and again, it is probably because they are trying to smell and find out if they are in the right place.

Every animal, including humans, uses smell to determine if they are with their baby or with their mom, and your baby is doing the same. Babies recognize their mom’s scent even before they are born. The sense of smell develops early in pregnancy and your baby’s first smell is the scent of your amniotic fluid.

To get a sense of comfort and make sure they are with their mommy, your baby might sometimes rub their face against you. It is one of their soothing mechanisms and something that reassures them that everything is fine in the world because they can smell their mom.

Baby Aggressively Rubbing Face On My Chest?

If your baby is specifically rubbing his or her face on your chest, it’s due to an involuntary primitive motor reflex that newborns have called the rooting reflex. This is just a signal from your baby to tell you that they are hungry and ready for food. They are looking for the nipple and this rooting is their way of trying to find it. Usually, if they are hungry, you will notice your baby rubbing their face side to side on your chest.

If you are a bottle-feeding mom and notice that your baby is aggressively rubbing his or her face in your chest, don’t worry! Even bottle-fed babies, during the initial months, rub their face on their mom because it is a motor reflex they are born with. They are simply trying to find the source of their food—the nipple. Whether you are a breastfed baby or bottle-fed, rubbing your face against mom’s chest means one thing—hungry baby!

This rooting reflex is more common in younger babies. It is present at birth and continues up to four to six months. These are their primitive reflexes which will eventually be replaced with motor functions and hand coordination, but until they learn and figure that out, you will regularly experience your baby rubbing their face all over you.

Babies Aggressively Rubbing Face Is Absolutely Normal

If you are a first-time mother, don’t be hard on yourself if your baby accidentally scratched themselves while rubbing their face. It happens with every child! While it could mean a lot of things, the probable reason is that they are either hungry, tired, or have dry skin. Or it could mean they are just learning to figure out how to use their hands!

When it comes to these tiny humans, remember they are exploring the world around them, including their body parts. When they notice their ears for the first time, you will see that they will keep tugging and pulling them. That’s their way of exploring and learning new things. Always keep an eye out and if you feel they are rubbing their face aggressively too often, then make them wear cute little mittens. This will prevent those unnecessary scratches on that beautiful face!

Stephanie Edenburgh

I'm Steph, a mom to 3 beautiful children and lover all things having to do with my family and being a mom. I've learned a lot raising my own children and working in education and healthcare roles throughout my career. Living in beautiful Southern California I enjoy documenting and writing about all of the hard work us mom's do on a daily basis.

Recent Posts