It’s not unheard of for babies to chew on their sleeve, collar, school tie or shirt until it’s soggy, stretched or up until all the buttons fall off.
However, is your little one chewing on clothes symptom of something to be concerned about? And importantly, why do kids develop this peculiar behavior?
Keep reading to glean insightful information.
Chewing On Clothes Symptom
As your baby comes of age and starts teething, it’s typical for them to put anything in their mouth.
In most cases, it’s a natural part of kids as they explore different tastes and textures.
Also, during the teething period, kids will put anything in their mouth, including clothes, to soothe their tender gums.
Nonetheless, if your little angel is past the teething age and is still frequently chewing on clothes and other items, it might be a sign of something else.
First and foremost, chewing is a form of oral sensory seeking.
As such, kids with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ( ADHD ) or sensory issues tend to chew on clothes and other items such as hair, pencils or toys to calm their nervous system.
Akin to how some adults bite their nails or lips as a calming mechanism or reaction to stress, kids with ADHD or sensory overload tend to chew on clothes when under stress or anxiety.
ADHD is a severe condition for toddlers, and it’s vital to consult your pediatrician if you suspect your child has ADHD.
Some signs your baby might have ADHD include disruptive behavior, emotional turmoil if they tend to forget things easily and have difficulties paying attention and finishing tasks.
In sum, chewing on clothes might be a strategy used by kids with ADHD as a calming mechanism for stress and anxiety or to help them focus and pay attention.
Also, even after your pediatrician rules out any signs of ADHD, some toddlers might chew on clothes and other items to help them focus and keep their anxiety at bay.
Other Causes For Baby Chewing on Clothes
Kids with developmental delays tend to put things in their mouths since their development rate is lower than their age.
In addition, toddlers progress at different rates.
Therefore, if you notice your little one is chewing on clothes a bit later than expected, it might be due to developmental delay.
Still, it would be best to consult a healthcare expert.
Other chewing on clothes symptoms include:
- Your baby might be having dental issues. Some kids might have difficulties expressing their problems with you. As such, it’s vital to check up with a dentist who can rule out any issues.
- Your child might be suffering from Pica. Pica is an eating disorder in which individuals eat non-food items.
- Also, toddlers with weak jaw muscles turn to chew clothes and other things to strengthen them naturally.
- Some toddlers chew on clothes as a fidgeting behavior. The t-shirt or tie your little one is wearing can be the closest thing to play with. As such, you might find them putting clothes and other items in their mouths. Still, fidgeting might also be a symptom of ADHD. Nonetheless, fidgeting is typical behaviour for kids and shouldn’t be an immediate cause for concern.
- Maybe your child is hungry.
- Your baby is bored and wants an activity to keep them occupied.
How To Help Kids Who Chew on Clothes and Other Items
For older kids, having a sit-down and talking about the clothes chewing behavior is a practical way to understand the reason, consequently helping them stop.
Also, understanding if there is a pattern when the chewing happens will go a long way in helping you figure out this peculiar behaviour.
In turn, you can help solve or remedy the situation. For instance, if they chew on clothes right before mealtime, it could be because they are hungry.
Therefore, you can solve this situation by feeding your baby earlier.
Additionally, if they tend to chew when anxious or under pressure, you can help them stay calm with breathing exercises.
Other practical and effective tips to help children stop chewing on clothes include:
- Give your child chewelry and oral motor grabbers. For example, sensory chew toys offer great sensory feedback for toddlers with ADHD who chew on clothes.
- Alternatively, provide bandana bibs to kids who prefer chewing on fabric in lieu of chewelry.
- If your kid chews on their clothes’ sleeves, consider wearing them with adaptive clothing such as short-sleeved bodysuits.
- Offer your child high sensory and chewy foods. Chewing gum is a typical example of chewy food. Still, you have to establish rules on chewing gum and only offer it to older toddlers. Also, foods high in crunch, such as dried fruits and carrots, can be an ideal option.
- Increased body movements can decrease the need for your baby to want to chew on clothes. As such, add extra activities such as swimming, riding a bicycle and jumping to their everyday routines. Don’t allow your kid to sit for long periods doing nothing.
Chewing on clothes and other items can be pretty disturbing for parents.
However, it would be best if you didn’t yell or discipline your child if you notice this behavior.
Instead, try to understand the reason your baby keeps chewing and help them fix the problem.
This masterpiece exhausts all the possible chewing on clothes symptom.
Even better, we have pinpointed practical and effective tips to help alleviate and treat this peculiar behavior.
Iesha is a loving mother of 2 beautiful children. She’s an active parent who enjoys indoor and outdoor adventures with her family. Her mission is to share practical and realistic parenting advice to help the parenting community becoming stronger.
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