Babies are fond of making unusual gestures because they still can’t effectively communicate through words. As a new parent, these gestures can be a source of confusion and worries, especially if you can’t seem to comprehend what your little one is trying to tell you. One gesture that many parents find intriguing is rubbing their feet together. If your baby constantly rubs his feet, is it something that you should be concerned of? Here’s what we’ve found.
Is it normal for babies to rub their feet?
According to a pediatrician, babies are fond of exploring their own body parts and these include their legs, feet, and toes.
Babies are discovering their senses.
Rubbing their feet together may provide a tactile sensation on their lower limbs, making them eager to repeat such action. Babies normally kick, extend their legs, and rub their feet merely as a habit of exploring their lower extremities.
It may be a part of active play.
Babies need to stretch and move their feet while at play to hone their physical abilities. Rubbing their feet together may be a part of their active play, especially while they are still figuring out how to roll over, crawl and stand.
It may be their self-soothing behavior.
Older babies love to soothe themselves to sleep, like rubbing their own feet. Yes, it may work similarly with their habit of rubbing their feet on your tummy while breastfeeding or touching your ears or arms to sleep. They may simply find it calming to rub their feet together and nothing is wrong with that.
Hence, as long as your baby is happy, feeding well, and steadily gaining weight, there is not much to be concerned of this behavior.
However, in some cases, parents feel worried because the rubbing of feet is accompanied by crying, making them wonder if it is still normal for their babies to behave this way. If that’s the case, then it may be worthwhile checking for the other symptoms and cues that your baby would like you to notice.
When to be concerned of your baby constantly rubbing their feet
Babies aren’t effective verbal communicators, so parents need to rely on their nonverbal cues to tell whether they are happy and content, or bothered by something that needs some intervention.
Rubbing their feet together is a normal gesture for a happy baby, but if it is accompanied by constant crying, your baby might be telling that he is not comfortable or that something he feels is wrong.
If your baby cries, struggles, and rub his feet constantly, other symptoms to look out for include:
- Dry and scaly skin, particularly in the ankles
- Scratches or wound
- Tenderness or pain
- Arching back
- Refusing to feed
- Irritable and unusually wakeful
Red and scaly patches in the skin can be a sign of eczema, an allergic skin condition that can cause extreme itchiness and may trigger your baby to rub their feet uncomfortably. In babies, eczema in the ankles is common, so make sure to check that spot if your baby frequently rubs his feet and cries.
Sometimes, babies can scratch their skin while rubbing their feet, if you see some scratches or wounded areas, make sure to cut your baby’s toenails short and treat them with a doctor-approved cream or ointment.
Arching back can be a sign that your baby is in pain or discomfort, such as how babies with reflux usually behave. Pain, along with fever, irritability, and refusal to feed are signs that your baby is feeling unwell and may need medical intervention.
Upon noticing any of these symptoms, it will be best to bring your baby to your pediatrician for a check-up. Your doctor can properly assess the cause of the unusual behavior and the associated symptoms as well as help you resolve the problem.
Babies can rub their feet together as a normal part of their play, exploration, and self-soothing behavior. However, if your baby does it while crying and showing other unusual symptoms, trust your gut feel and bring him to your doctor for advice.