September 30, 2007,
S.J. asks from Slinger, WI on September 02, 2007
One Year Old Pulling Out His Own Hair
My one year old boy has started doing something very strange. He sort of reaches his hand behind his ear, grabs a handful of his own hair and just pulls it out. Then he puts the hair in his mouth (because everything goes in his mouth, of course). It doesn't seem to hurt him at all--but he does it so frequently that he's actually creating a bald spot behind his ear!! It really concerns me.
It almost seems like he's doing unconsciously, like how some people twirl their hair or something. I've been trying to see if there's a pattern to when he does it, and from what I can tell, it's almost anytime, but particularly while nursing or riding in the car (maybe when he's bored and/or relaxing?).
I've heard of people who pick at or pull out their hair because of distress, but he never seems agitated or troubled when he does it--and anyway, isn't he too young for an emotional problem like that? He's really the happiest and healthiest little boy!
Has anyone else seen or heard of this? What might be causing him to do it? What can we do to prevent it, other than gently disentangle his fingers and say no when he's doing it?
So What Happened?™
Thanks for your advice, everyone. We gave our son a very short haircut, and that has helped, but every now and then in the morning he looks a little more bald in certain spots (especially after nights when he was awake more, it seems). Our pediatrician is not concerned at all, which is somewhat reassuring. We have also introduced a favorite blanky and lovey for sleeping--so cute how he grabs for his little stuffed dog and snuggles it when falling asleep!!--in replacement for soothing himself by pulling his hair. Most of all, we're just hoping that he grows out of it!
M.M. answers from Milwaukee on September 04, 2007
I have a neighbor that had a similar problem with their little girl. I dont know exactly how she fixed the problem i do know that they would put mittens on her when she would go to bed (cause she would pull her hair mostly then) and when she would nurse. I dont know if that would work for your little boy or not but it might be worth a try.
J.F. answers from Rochester on September 04, 2007
Does he have a blanket or toy he likes to cuddle with when he's relaxing? You said he does it mostly when he's nursing and in the car, so I'm wondering if it's almost a comfort measure for him. Maybe give him something to cuddle/hold onto during these times and see if it redirects his attention? The only other thing I can think of is to keep his hair short enough that he can't get a firm grip on it. I hope you find something that helps! Good luck. :)
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R.S. answers from Appleton on September 04, 2007
I would talk to his doctor about it. Check out info on trichotillomania.
In the mean time I definitely think he needs a replacement behavior. Not sure what that would be though. Is he seeking input for his hands or his head? Perhaps he needs something to hold on to and give his hands input while he's calming, or perhaps he's seeking input to his head. Maybe some massage would feel good? I don't know if it's quite the same, but my oldest (who has sensory issues) used to pull on a chunk of his hair all the time. He did it to calm himself, or self-regulate. He never pulled it out though. Good luck!
K.R. answers from Madison on September 30, 2007
I went through something similar with my son when he was about the same age. our doctor gave us simple advice. Give him a Buzz Cut. he cant pull out what he cant grab. I know that winter is coming but short hair is better than bald spots. also see what else is going on when he is doing it. he could be doing it out of bordom or using it as a soothing agent.