Head Scratching 3-Month Old

Updated on February 01, 2011
H.A. asks from San Francisco, CA
9 answers

Hi there,

Our 3 1/2 month old scratches his head a lot. He seems to do it when he's tired, frustrated, or grouchy. Since he's a really fussy baby, that means he scratches a lot! My husband and I thought it was an emotional response, but the pediatrician prescribed a shampoo that seems to be for dandruff. It made his cradle cap go away, but his scalp is still really dry and flakey. His forehead is irritated, too. And now he has some scratches because I didn't get his fingernails short enough, poor guy!

Any suggestions? Thanks!

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answers from Sacramento on

Use a glass nail file (you can find at any beauty supply store) to smooth the edge of the nail out .
It works wonders. I use them too.
I stopped using nail cutters on my baby after the first time since I found these.
Using the glass nail file will not only shorten the nail w/o cutting but smooth the edge so there aren't any points or ragged edges. And more comfy for baby.....no chance of cutting them. :) Good luck

More Answers



answers from San Francisco on

My 3 month old rubs his face and occasionally scratches himself when he is really tired. It sounds like it might be an emotional response to me, if his cradle cap is gone and he's still doing it. My son got cradle cap too and we just used Vaseline on his scalp and combed out the flakes then gave him a bath later on. It took a couple of tries but it went away. Maybe some Vaseline on his scalp would help the dry flakiness? Or perhaps some kind of baby conditioner?



answers from Kansas City on

Does he have excema besides the cradle cap? I'm also surprised to hear that he has bad cradle cap at 3 1/2 months...seems like a long time to me. My little guy was so itchy and so rashy that I was shocked when even at such a young age he would scratch himself. His cradle cap was pretty bad and I realized it was only a symptom of the bigger issue! He had a milk intolerance (which he grew out of thankfully!!) and it caused skin, gas, and mucus issues, so maybe be on the lookout for other things that may be the cause of his itchiness!



answers from Minneapolis on

I think it's likely that it is an emotional response. My daughter was/is a hair twirler. She does it less now at 8, but she twirled her hair when she was happy, upset, nervous, excited, almost any emotion that is! We didn't make a fuss about it, as it was her way of dealing with life.

And yes, cradle cap is best dealt with by putting on olive oil and then gently combing against the scalp.


answers from Redding on

I agree with RED,, put socks on his hands to prevent the scratches. When my son was tiny he had cradle cap and I used Amway's LOC,,(liquid organic cleaner) mixed with a little warm water and a soft tooth brush. I just sat him on my lap and gently scrubbed a patch every evening just before his bath. It took 3 or 4 nights and it was gone,and never came back. He sorta liked it I think. Who doesn't like to have their head rubbed! I haven't used the cleaner in years so maybe check what's it in now, but if it's still the same, it was safe for skin, and bathing and cleaning house. But yes, put socks on his hands so he doesn't scratch himself to pieces.



answers from Chicago on

Your Dr is wrong. It is an emotional response. Some babies are scratchers. My son was. I would work on his nails every day, but he would still scratch himself up.

Don't worry about it. Around 6 months it will lesson.



answers from Chattanooga on

My DD will pull her hair when she's over-tired, over-stimulated, or whenever something is bugging her. I agree with SH though, not to wash every day (if you are) While my DD gets a bath every night, she gets 2 plain water baths to every soap bath. (She only gets the water ones because the routine is good for her) She used to have really bad cradle cap, so I just used to use a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub her head when I used (regular baby) shampoo on her, and I also used the toothbrush to comb the flakes out. You might try putting some mittens or socks on his hands though, until he is able to control himself a little bit better.



answers from Sacramento on

I read your post and while I don't have any suggestions beyond what you've already received, can I offer some advice on the nail clipping issue?

A friend told me to always carry baby nail clippers. Buy several and keep them in your purse, glove box, stroller, etc. Any time the baby falls asleep, quickly clip his nails. My friend would even pull over in a parking lot if the occasion presented itself. Its much easier than battling with a squirmy baby and less risk of cutting him.

My daughters are now in middle school and I still carry that same pair of baby Snoopy nail clippers. Now we use them for cutting off price tags, annoying threads, etc.



answers from Honolulu on

Its probably from the prescribed shampoo.
Now his scalp is dry and itchy.
Don't use that again.

Also, with an infant, it is not necessary to wash their hair everyday.
Just a couple times a week is enough.
Or it will be too drying... on their hair and scalp.
That is what our Ped told us.
In between shampooing, you can just rub his head with a dampened wash cloth.

Also, does he nap?
Infants usually nap a a lot. 3 times a day is usual.
I also say this because you said he is s tired/frustrated/grouchy baby.
So maybe he needs to nap, more.

Also, for a baby, when they do things like that, it ALSO means, that they are:
1) yes, over-tired
2) over-stimulated
and they do things like this to 'shut-out' external stimuli... and because they are tired and had enough.
He needs to nap. If he is not doing so, regularly. And consistently.
This is TYPICAL tired-baby behavior & 'communication.'
And give him a good solid feeding, before naps and when tired.

For cradle cap, per my son, we used olive oil.

To me, your baby is 'scratching' his head, because he is tired/over-tired/over stimulated and at the end of his rope.
Not because his scalp is itchy, per say.
But now, since the prescribed shampoo from the Ped, you do you have a baby with a TOO dry scalp. An irritated scalp.
So don't use that shampoo again.

all the best,

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