Babies are hilarious, which is a hilarious statement in and of itself since they really don’t do too much in the newborn phase. That’s why when they do things, you can’t help but laugh.
I’ll stop being vague. I’m talking about what happens when a baby grabs your face. The first time it happens, it can be surprising, not to mention amusing.
Babies do all sorts of strange things, perfect fodder to laugh at with your husband later. You’ll recall those moments and crack up. Why, our youngest started jabbing and poking her daddy in the face when she had just turned 1 and we STILL laugh about it.
And our eldest would do this head bop thing sometimes when nursing. She’d just bob her head like she was listening to some cool tunes but repeatedly into my boobs. She screams now if we try to remind her of this. Must be those fun tween years, eh?
You’ll be happy to know that if your baby is grabbing, scratching, squeezing, pinching, rubbing, clawing, or simply just touching your face (or even their own), even if they’re sleeping or nursing, they mean no harm. This is not an aggressive move. This is why when our baby “beat up” my husband, it became a family joke.
Why did she do that, though? Why baby keeps touching my face and other mysteries will be revealed below!
Why is the baby touching my face?!?
When the baby keeps touching your face, it’s perfectly normal. That’s because babies in the newborn stage don’t have fully developed eyesight. They will gravitate toward your face, particularly when you hold them, and they can make out the subtle shapes of it. They can also see the larger features you have, like your nose, mouth, and eyes.
Baby touching your face basically means that she loves you. She’s loved you since she first came to be, for she’s heard your voice and listened to those other sounds from inside the womb. She just wants to be close to you and shower you with attention. But because she’s a baby and doesn’t have any motor skills or understand that she has hands with fingers, she’s a bit of a klutz.
What is my baby grabbing my face for while nursing?
Now, when it comes to breastfeeding, there are a lot of strange things babies will do. As I mentioned, my eldest bopped my boobs with her head. Babies will wave their arms, touch your face, pull on any clothes or things you have near, tug your hair, or even kick you. She isn’t doing it to be mean, though.
If some sort of distress accompanies the active behavior, though, chances are your breastmilk flow may be either too fast or too slow. In this way, she may seem like she’s hitting or kicking you though what she’s really trying to tell you is that the flow isn’t right for her needs.
You can try changing nursing positions when that happens. If she stops hitting, kicking, and grabbing, the chances are that was the problem and she’ll be happy now.
Other times, it’s just her exploring her newfound discovery that she has hands and fingers and all these other things. Oh, and how she loves you! She can’t get enough of being around you and simply wants to grab your face!
Just like you love holding and cuddling her, she feels the same about you. But she’s too small to hold you that way.
However, some behavior will seem aggressive as babies start to get bigger. It’s up to us to teach those manners. After all, you don’t need to tolerate biting, hitting, or any of that. Even a baby without teeth can really chomp down on your nipple, and it HURTS!
If your baby’s behavior while nursing is a bit too much for you, never scream or show surprise. Staying calm and even-toned while telling them firmly, “Please stop hitting me, or we will stop breastfeeding.”
Generally, this is less of a problem for a newborn, but bigger babies will need to be taught that certain things don’t fly during breastfeeding. Make good on your announcement if the behavior continues – no need to scream or raise your voice. Simply stop and explain why you did. You can wait a little while and try again. It should only take a few times if that for this to work in your favor.
When the baby is rubbing her face on the chest as you hold her, this is much sweeter than being kicked, hit, or grabbed. She’s doing this because she knows your scent and she feels a bond with you. This rubbing means she feels safe and secure, and she wants to stay in this safe space. It’s actually quite sweet, though, in my experience, it can lead to head bops on the boobs, which will give you a laugh for sure!
What about when baby is rubbing face while sleeping?
Chances are, she has no clue she’s doing it. Babies get so into the little things they do each day that they keep trying to do it even in sleep when they realize something new. That’s certainly the case with rolling over and crawling, so don’t worry! The baby is just fine!
If she keeps rubbing her face, make sure the temperature in her room is normal and check for signs of teething. I’m willing to bet some of these silly behaviors you’re experiencing are because you’ll soon see a pearly-white popping up!
Do babies understand kisses?
Yes, they do! But they don’t tend to get it until they’re about a year old. Babies will repeat what they see and when they see how much joy their sweet little kisses give you all, they’ll be more prone to dole them out.
My eldest would give us slobbery kisses on the cheek. It was adorable, even if messy. But all this – the grabbing of the face, the snuggling on your chest, and other odd behaviors basically boil down to one thing…your baby loves you!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.