This, I have lots of experience with; After all, my baby girl Marcie, has eczema from two weeks old. Eczema, put simply, is the itch that rashes. It is chronic, meaning it must be managed overtime with no simple cure. Though it is not life threatening, the amount of stress it creates for a mom with a newborn with severe eczema has been researched to show it’s the same as that facing moms taking care of children with severe disabilities. Keeping my baby’s fingers occupied since she could scratch sometimes feel like my full-time job – in the day, I occupy her fingers and at night, I hold her hands when co-sleeping.
Below are the tried and test top five ways of occupying baby’s fingers!
Learn Sign Language
From 3 months old, I let my baby watch baby sign language DVDs. Of course we all know TV works wonders in distracting babies and the remote control somehow attracts them (mine has been bitten spoilt by my baby). The wonderful thing about learning sign language is that it’s another recognized language that your child can use – I’m planning to volunteer with her when she’s older at the deaf association. Whenever my baby wants to scratch, I’d ask her to sign something ‘milk’, ‘cat’, ‘dog’ and she’d stop her scratching and show me she knows what I’m asking.
Play with anything Cold
I’ve asked a doctor why my baby loves cold teether, cold drinks and she even eats ice! If you’re outside and run out of toys to distract from scratching, buy a small cold bottled drink and let your child play with it. This trick has helped me many times when I’m outdoors with her.
Tear anything you don’t need
I wonder if it motivates me to recycle the magazine pile; babies love tearing paper and your old magazines can help. Be sure that you don’t let your child play with new magazines, not just because it’s new but because it’s easier to get paper-cut.
Chew, but not on anything!
My baby has chewed her buggy book, her stroller fan and even juice cup straw (feels like gummy bears?). The point is get finger food ready, have a teething ring on hand to distract your child. Sometimes, clearly she’s chewing on something inedible, but if you’re trying to keep the stroller from falling off the escalator, I guess a chew at the stroller fan is comparatively safer!
When your baby can walk, pushing a chair around can occupy her. Getting toys with wheels is also a good distraction.
What is not encouraged to do (though I still do) is saying/shouting ‘Stop Scratching!’ to your child; apparently, it is less effective than rewarding her not to do it. Also, it creates frustration if like me, you have a child with skin problems and really find it hard to control the itch.
Mei is passionate about helping families with eczema children and her blog, EczemaBlues.com, offers concise posts, eczema cartoons, insightful doctor Q&As to provide parents a light-hearted sanctuary to understand more about childhood eczema. Her baby girl Marcie, who has eczema from two weeks old, has also inspired her to publish a children picture book ‘A to Z Animals are not Scratching!’ that encourages children not to scratch. Mei is active in helping her local community through a support group and an eczema fund to pay for treatment for low income families. You can follow Mei on twitter @MarcieMom.