Why Do Babies Pull Their Hair?

If you’ve ever seen a baby pull out tufts or strands of their own hair, it can be scary. People are often quick to assume there is something wrong with the child when in actuality, it can be pretty common. Generally, babies will outgrow this but you can prevent it and help keep it from starting a bigger problem.

Why Do Babies Pull Their Hair?

With infants under 12 months, baby pulling the hair can be a sign of stress. This may mean the baby is tired, upset or unusually irritated. It can seem like an unusual reaction to stress, but it is produced as a means of trying to feel in control of something. Hair pulling is a symptom of Trichotillomania, the compulsion to pull your hair out. This condition needs medical treatment if advanced to this stage.

A baby pulling hair right before going to sleep can be a sign of being too tired. An earlier bed time should relieve this. A baby pulling the hair because they are upset may mean they need more reassurance and cuddles to help soothe their feelings of anxiety and stress.

Children that pull hair under two years old usually do it to self-comfort. This is often started as twirling their hair and later progresses into hair pulling. It is commonly associated with thumb-sucking but can be a symptom of boredom. A young child pulling their own hair is often found to be overly intelligent. At this age, twisting the hair is often what causes it to be pulled, which is an extension of twirling.

Although a baby pulling hair is not uncommon, there are some side effects and symptoms that can be troublesome. Bald patches and baldness can start from a child pulling their hair in the same spot. They can also develop red and tender spots from hair pulling. If the hair pulling has interfered with their disposition and general development, it is seen as a problem.

How to Deal with Hair Pulling

Whether your baby pulling hair is temporary or long term can be hard to tell. In either case, it’s good to learn ideas on how to redirect their behavior. It can be very effective with babies because they are used to their parents guiding their behavior. The sooner you start, the better results you will have.

Be careful not to reprimand your baby pulling on their hair. They are too young to understand it, and this can add more stress, causing them to continue. You should have favorite toys handy to divert their attention when they start pulling their hair. Giving them something interesting to play with is a good tactic for diverting their attention away from their hair. When you notice them reaching for their hair, remove their hands and place them on the fun toy.

Another option is to trim your baby’s hair so there isn’t enough to easily grab. When it is hard to grab, pulling hair isn’t as fun. If your baby’s hair is long and you don’t want to cut it, try keeping it in a ponytail. Please note: don’t make it too tight or it can damage the hair. These steps can help with the problem, but make sure to look to the reason your baby is pulling hair.

Other Tips:

  • Place a hat on their had to reduce temptation.
  • Learn when your child pulls their hair, such as nap time, or TV time, and focus their energy elsewhere.
  • Try covering their hands. ScratchSleeves are wonderful for nightwear. Silk mitts can help keep your child from getting a grip on their hair. The soft silk can be a great comfort to them.
  • For little ones that are older, try using a reward chart. This is where you can place stickers for days you don’t find them pulling on their hair.

Doctor’s Advise

There are some cases where hair pulling will get a trichotillomania diagnosis. In this case, you should seek psychological therapy to help evaluate why your child is still pulling out their hair. In extreme cases, medications may be prescribed to help with obsessive compulsive disorders. If you find your baby pulling hair to be a problem that you can’t resolve, it is a good idea to seek the advice of your doctor.

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