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Old 01-22-2012, 04:11 PM   #1
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Babies or Toddlers who eat fuzz & hair

Hi all,

Ever since she was a baby, DD has liked to eat or suck on fuzz and hair. At 4 months PP when all my lustrous pregnancy hair fell out, we would find her with hair in her mouth or wrapped around her fingers. Then I noticed that she liked to pull the fuzz off of fuzzy blankets, so I compensated by keeping fuzzy blankets away from her. Same thing with dolls with hair, stuffed animals, etc.

I didn't think too much of it, honestly, since she was a tiny baby so I figured there wasn't cognitive behavioral therapy for infants. But time has passed and now she's 27 months. A few weeks ago I found her pulling the stuffing out of a stuffed animal and eating it. I told her no, we don't eat fuzz, that hurt Mr. Pig, and Mr. Pig went to the doctor to get sewed up with a bandaid.

Then I started noticing hair in her poop (she's not PTed yet), but again, dummy me didn't put it together. I just thought, well, she must have found hair lying around the house; it doesn't look like it's too much.

Then we noticed a spotty patch on her scalp and asked her if she'd pulled her hair out and eaten it. She said yes. I immediately called the pediatrician (we're going tomorrow) and found some tips online for how to discourage the pulling, at least. They seem to have worked like a charm (bandaids on the thumbs, a grab bag of toys for not pulling the hair, etc.).

People keep saying, oh, I have trichotillomania and pulled my hair starting as a teenager, but since the hair pulling stopped as soon as we instituted some fairly simple tactics, I figure the compulsion isn't really about pulling out her hair. I figure that she just likes hair/fuzz, found some on top of her head, and was like, cool, a new source of hair . . . The question is why she likes to eat hair and fuzz, and what can be done about that. From what I've read that's called trichophagia.

So anyway, does anyone have any experience with a baby or toddler eating hair and/or fuzz? I'm hoping the pedi will recommend somebody to work with -- what kind of qualifications should I look for? I figure at this point, I can't just hope it's something she'll grow out of and really need to get to the bottom of it. She's not 4 months old anymore and if she'd go to the extremes of pulling her own hair out to eat it, then it's obviously pretty serious.

We just got a video monitor, and I watched her for the hour before she fell asleep last night. I saw nothing that looked like hair pulling (though she was biting her nails, but I figure one battle at a time and that one doesn't seem therapy-worthy), and the patch has not changed, so I really think she's stopped the pulling. But the eating could really harm her by becoming impacted in her bowels so we have to get to the bottom of it.

Advice? Experience?


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Old 01-22-2012, 04:14 PM   #2
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No advice but watching to see what others say.... My Ds is very similar at 1yr at eating fuzz and hair he finds. He loves playing with stuff like that.
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Old 01-23-2012, 08:39 AM   #3
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Re: Babies or Toddlers who eat fuzz & hair

Hmmm. Very interesting, I hope your ped. has some answers for you. Good Luck!
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Old 01-23-2012, 09:28 AM   #4
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I have only heard of this in relation to compulsions in teenagers and adults, so I'd definitely pursue the issue with the ped and maybe even a mental health professional just to be on the safe side. Good luck!
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Old 01-23-2012, 11:26 AM   #5
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I would definitley talk with your doctor. Eating hair is dangerous, she could get a bezoar and get really sick. Its a behavior that really should be stopped and not ignored.

Hopefully you can get some help!
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Old 01-23-2012, 11:31 AM   #6
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Re: Babies or Toddlers who eat fuzz & hair

I'd also be interested in what you find out. My 17 month old DD loves to eat fuzz. We had a tennis ball and I noticed the was trying to pull the fuzz off and into her mouth. I also noticed she just started doing it with her blankie. (Its a crocheted blanket). I asked the Dr. and she said it may be an oral fixation thing, that she likes the way it feels in her mouth. She told me to take the tennis ball away and the blankie too. Only problem is its her favorite blankie and she uses it to put herself to sleep. She no longer uses a paci. If I take the blankie, bed time and nap time will be really hard.
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Old 01-24-2012, 12:36 AM   #7
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Re: Babies or Toddlers who eat fuzz & hair

If you hear of any good advice, I would love to hear it. DD2 doesn't do it with the blankets I put in her bed (she's 27 months also) but I have blankets from Iraq (ex) and she loves to pull the fuzz off of those and eat it even after telling her over and over not to!
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Old 01-24-2012, 12:59 AM   #8
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Re: Babies or Toddlers who eat fuzz & hair

I dont have any experience about this in particular but I would say that you might try to replace the activity w/something more "positive" or at least something that wont harm her.
The eating of the hair is obviously a way for her to deal w/some sort of anxiety and making her stop isnt dealing w/the root of the problem, ie the anxiety.

I have bitten my nails and twisted my hair knots since I was a toddler and I do it when Im bored, stressed whatever.
Ive even woken up in the middle of the night to find myself twisting my hair.

It's probably something out of her control so make sure you treat it as such and not make her feel bad about doing it.

I hope you find a solution.
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Old 01-24-2012, 06:45 PM   #9
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Re: Babies or Toddlers who eat fuzz & hair

Thought I'd update --

The pedi didn't feel it was something that needed a behavioral specialist -- she consulted with a colleague, who said the same thing. She believes it's the kind of sensory stimulation (thumb sucking, nail biting) that kids do when they're bored. She said children meeting their milestones usually outgrow things like this. She suggested going in every 5 minutes as she's falling asleep to check on her and remind her not to pull her hair.

As for the pulling, we've had a video monitor for three nights, and I watched her basically the whole time before she fell asleep. I saw her pulling once, went in and "discovered" the hair that she'd pulled out and gently reminded her not to. I asked her what she doesn't get if she pulls her hair (the answer is a toy from the grab bag), and she named the toy she had picked that day, so I took that toy away until after her nap time when she earned it back for not pulling her hair during her nap.

The pedi said not to make TOO big of a deal of it so it doesn't become something she does for negative attention or when she's throwing a tantrum, like when kids hit themselves, that the admonishments should be gentle.

I haven't seen any more hair or fuzz in her stool since last week. If I were seeing her pull every time she's alone in her room or finding a lot of hair or fuzz in her stool, I'd probably press the specialist issue, but at this point I don't think she could be doing it enough to cause any GI issues. But of course we'll watch for symptoms of stomach pain.

Good luck to everyone else dealing with this too.
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