Chewing on Hair!

Updated on February 03, 2013
J.G. asks from Chicago, IL
11 answers

My daughter use to chew on her hair, so we cut it so she couldn't chew on it. After a good 6-9 months of no hair chewing, we started to let it grow out. She was great about not chewing on it, but in the last two months, she is constantly chewing on it. I try to remind her not to do it, but it doesn't help.

So, do I take her and get all of her hair cut short? She really wants long hair, so the back is long, with layers around her face that are shorter. We can't keep the back the length it is without her having a mullet, so I'm not sure what to do. I told her this morning that if she didn't make an effort, we'd have to get it cut. I just found her hair soaked. I've been putting her hair in a braid to prevent knots from wearing hats and things, but the sides just fall down by her face, and she refuses to wear hair clips.

So, how do we get it cut? Do we cut it all off, into a bob or something? Or other ideas about breaking her of this habit? And how do I help her to replace the need it fills? It's gross, and she is literally soaking the sides of her hair!

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answers from San Francisco on

I would cut it short, until the need passes. Hopefully she won't replace it with something worse. Compulsive habits are horrible, so it's worth cutting her hair to help her get over this one.

It takes 21 days to replace, cease, or begin a new habit.

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answers from Chicago on

Tell your pediatrician, have them do a blood draw to see if she's missing some type of nutrients. Research "pica". My daughter used to chew on anything paper. I thought she was being a 2 year old, teething...Books, cards, notebook paper, toilet paper, paper towels...anything she could get her hands on. It turned out she had an iron deficiency due to the amount of milk she was drinking and it made her crave paper products. Weird but true. Well worth the blood test. Once we got her iron regulated she quit the bad habits. Good luck!

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answers from Miami on

Continue cutting it short enough that she can't chew it. She will have to mature into having long hair by not chewing on it.

Of course she wants long hair, J.. She wants it for chewing.

She has a nervous habit in this. You need to get her help - it's a sensory issue. When she gets help for this, she will finally get the point, and as she progresses AND matures, she won't chew on her hair.

Good luck,

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Lynchburg on

Hmm it's a good sign that if she went 6-9mo w/o chewing that she is perfectly capable of not doing it. Does she do it all day or at specific times, like for soothing? You can keep giving her the ultimatum of haircut if you catch her chewing until she gives up, but maybe talk with her and ask why she does it...If she can go that long w/o doing it, then it's obviously not too hard on her to break the habit.

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answers from San Francisco on

Sorry mom, I think you're going to have to cut it. I spent a some of my childhood with a pixie cut because apparently I liked to twist my hair around my fingers until it knotted. Nothing my parents did dissuaded me from doing it. It was a nervous habit
The only other thing I can think of here is to put something bitter but non-toxic in the sides of her hair - like lemon juice.

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answers from Austin on

Look up, 4 pounds of hair found in girls stomach....on google.
True story.. It is so disgusting.

Show it to your daughter and tell her, if she does not stop chewing her hair, you w ill have it cut so that she cannot get it into her mouth..

This is a Health issue.

She needs to figure out what will work for her...

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answers from Redding on

When I was a young kid, I had a friend who sucked and chewed on her hair.
Don't ask me why, but I tried it.
My mom told me that if I didn't stop, she would cut my hair so short that I couldn't possibly get it in my mouth.

My mom didn't mess around and I knew it, so that was the end of it for me.

You can have your daughter checked out to find if there is some type of psychological reason she is doing it, but if worse comes to worse, you can always cut her hair. There are lots of darling short haircuts. If she can't get her hair in her mouth, she can't chew on it. If she begins chewing on something else, then you have a habit that you have to deal with.

Don't do the mullet thing. If she's not embarrassed by it now, someday she will NOT be thankful you chose that option. If she refuses to wear clips or keep her hair back, a nice little bob or A-line cut is a good solution.
There really are lots of cute hair cuts that are basically care-free and super easy to manage.

I, personally, think a cute haircut is in order.
Problem solved.

Best wishes.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

In addition to the suggested lab work, talk with her doctor about the possibility that this is trichotillomania.

When I was in fourth grade, I started playing with my hair and chewing on it. Still do, although not quite as badly as I did then. It's not a "habit" that you can simply decide to quit doing.

For her sake, I hope it's pica.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I'd have it cut into a bob which can't reach her mouth.

I think CcL is right to suggest a blood draw to test for pica, however, you can also deal with it as others have suggested-- making her hair shorter.

You don't say how old your daughter is, however, one of the 'rules' of dealing with little kids and their behaviors is "adjust the environment", so if your daughter is chewing her hair, the haircut is the adjustment.

(Just be glad she's not biting her nails--- I've never outgrown that!)

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answers from Grand Forks on

I really wouldn't worry about it. I remember doing this for a while as a child, nobody made a big deal about it and I stopped on my own. I wasn't swallowing it. I guess I wasn't soaking the side of my head either, just the ends. It's better than a thumb or a pacifier. I suppose you could see if she'd like a chewy necklace instead. I actually just recently caught the principal at my sons school chewing on her hair and thought it was kind of funny.

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answers from San Francisco on

Could you try a different hairstyle? Maybe 2 french braids or a french twist? I don't know if the front of her hair is long enough to work in one of those styles.

Here's what I would suggest. My older daughter was a hair-twirler, and I realized that when I put her hair up for ballet, she didn't mess with it. I think the combination of it being pulled back completely off of her face, along with the crazy hairspray (Frozen Stiff, in the purple can, from Sally Beauty Supply... that stuff will hold through a hurricane), just kept her from wanting to touch it. And honestly, the taste of the hairspray alone will deter your daughter from sucking on her hair, I think.

Do you think your daughter has pica? That's where people eat things (or try to) that are not food. It may signal a dietary need? I don't know what, but it might be worth giving her some multivitamins or having her doctor do some blood work. When I was pregnant with my first, I wanted to eat chalk (I know, gross, right?), and my doctor realized I needed more calcium. When I began eating Tums by the handful, the compulsion went away totally. So, that may be what's happening with your daughter??

1 mom found this helpful
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