April 17, 2009,
M.A. asks from Ridgefield, CT on April 10, 2009
18 Month Old Pulls Her Own Hair
my 18 month old daughter likes to pull her hair when she is falling asleep or throughout the day to comfort herself. lately, i've noticed that she is starting to go bald in the back of her head where she pulls. in the morning she hands me clumps of hair. does anyone have any experience with this, and if so were you able to do anything to alleviate the situation?
thanks for any advice you can give.
T.A. answers from New York on April 11, 2009
While my 15-month old hasn't done this (yet!), my nephew has. He would curl his fingers around his mom's hair and pull. Then he would do it to his own hair and sure enough, he had a little bald patch.
Someone gave them a crocheted blanket and the edges have this stringy fringe when he was born. His mom decided to give him that at bed time. So he now wraps his little fingers around that. Maybe if you find a blanket like that ( doesn't even have to be crocheted, just have stringy edges) that will help.
1 mom found this helpful
T.M. answers from Utica on April 17, 2009
hi. my daughter pulled her hair to the point where she was bald on one side of her her for about 6 months. we never made a huge deal about it and it seemed to stop as quick as it started. by age 3 or so after a few haircuts everything was back to normal. we never really figured out why she did this, but it seemed to be along the lines of a security thing. the main thing is it stopped and today we all laugh about the pictures from that time. hang in there and soon you'll be headed to get normal childhood haircuts.
C.A. answers from New York on April 11, 2009
I have read what everyone else has said, and everyone has such great ideas! As someone who has had this problem since age 13, I HOPE your daughter does not have TTM, but if she continues to pull, you should definitely check this out (Dr. Penzel is the dr. I saw to help me cease pulling):
If you would like to read about what Dr. Penzel has to say about Trichotillomania in children and adults, take a look at his self-help book, "The Hair-Pulling Problem: A Complete Guide to Trichotillomania," (Oxford University Press, 2000). You can learn more about it at www.trichbook.com
Or go to WSPS.com (Western Suffolk Psychological Services) and search "articles" on the left hand side of the page. When I saw my older daughter doing it, he said kids go through self-soothing behaviors, and not to worry about it unless it continued as they got older.
A.S. answers from New York on April 11, 2009
My mother (in her 60s) did this. My grandmother brought her to the doctor, who said, "don't worry, she'll stop when it's all gone" and she did. She went bald, didn't have any more hair to pull out and found something else to comfort herself.
K.I. answers from New York on April 13, 2009
Don't label it yet.
My daughter did that and she is find now.
Put socks on her hands, right before she falls asleep.
Also, try different soft toys, blankets etc.
It sounds like she needs comfort - some babies even rock and rock almost knocking themelves out.
C.H. answers from New York on April 10, 2009
It sounds like it is a comfort thing, like thumb sucking. try giving her something else to comfort herself with. Fisher Price makes dolls that are really cute and have hair I think they are called Mommy something. My 22 month old has one and loves it. the body is soft and they come in many different looks. You might even be able to find one that resembles your dayghter. Good Luck!
D.N. answers from Albany on April 11, 2009
My son did this as a little one too. When he became tired, he'd suck one of his thumbs (either one would do) and with his other hand, he'd twirl his hair around his finger. He first did this right above his forehead and developed a bald spot. I told him not to do that there anymore, so he switched to the side of his head, where he developed a bald spot on each side, (because he would alternate thumbs for sucking) then he switched to the very top of his head, where another bald spot developed. He looked like a religious monk! I told him not to twirl his hair, but to pat it instead, which he did. He'd pat it and say, "I no twirl Momma, I dus pat." LOL! We did end up having to give him a buzz cut though and that was the end of the hair twirling. With a little girl though...... I don't know...... if you did have to give her a buzz cut..... there are some really sweet hats out there for little girls to wear! Good luck.
A.S. answers from New York on April 11, 2009
Your daughter is demonstrating signs of trichotillomania. My niece was diagnosed with this as an infant, and I noticed that my 9 month old was possibly starting to pull her own hair several months ago. It is chiefly associated with anxiety and/or self-soothing, but can be controlled if you act now. First of, definitely speak to your pediatrician. S/he may suggest that you cut or buzz her hair, something I am sure you will not want to do, but my brother and his wife cut my niece's and it was the best thing for her. Since she was an infant, she did not understand NOT to pull her own hair. This was the extreme solution but the most successful in the end. Second, a fuzzy, fringey blanket to play with and cuddle or something silky will help. Third, try to resist saying "no" when she does it in front of you. Instead, just silently move her hand away from her head and place another object (like the blanket or fingey toy) in her hands to keep them occupied.
My niece is now 7 years old with a beautiful head of hair to the middle of her back....no pulling at all. And my daughter still puts her hand to her head and gets a small amount, but knock wood, she hasn't actually pulled. I think the toys and blanket have helped. I hope you find that this works. Best of luck!