Toddlers’ obsession with their mom’s hair, especially while breastfeeding, is a self-soothing activity that will fade eventually. Hair twirling, biting, pinching, ear pulling, or sometimes hitting the head is common in children who are soothing themselves to sleep. Fiddling with their mom’s hair or grabbing her face is also their way of establishing their connections with their mothers. By the time they reach three or four years old, these habits may begin to fade. If not out of habit, a toddler will sometimes only resort to pulling their mom’s hair if they want to get a reaction.
Babies will grasp on anything they can put their hands on. That’s because they are trying to explore their senses and the world around them. Your dangling hair is often the target of their attention as it flutters about. But they will outgrow their self-soothing and exploring phase as they discover more things around them.
Hair obsession in toddlers
If you are looking for answers for your baby’s behavior, don’t worry. Though it may look weird, it is perfectly normal. You are not alone trying to figure out the oddity in their behavior.
Many moms, almost all, discover this amusing and annoying baby behavior. But there are many reasons why little kids seem to do this to their moms.
Babies will start to self-soothe themselves to sleep by the time they reach 3 to 6 months of age. But, this is unique to every child since some kids may struggle and never learn it at all.
Self-soothing is the act of letting the baby sleep all by himself with little to no interaction from parents. Thumb-sucking and ear pulling are common techniques that babies will develop.
Some babies may also grasp their mother’s hair to comfort and lull themselves to sleep.
Explore their senses
Infant toys are often made to dangle and move above them and are attached to the crib. That’s because babies are attracted to touching objects that move before their eyes.
The feel of objects in their hands helps them explore the senses around them. For example, pulling their mom’s hair is an early sensory activity that will help them make sense of their surroundings.
A comforting mechanism
Sure, it is infuriating for moms to have their kids twist and pull their hair. But it is a comforting activity for infants to relieve their personal stress and tension. Toddlers are also trying to find ways to cope with their feelings.
Fiddling with something will help them ease their anxiety or simply just wind themselves down.
When habits become an obsession
Yes, toddlers are weird, and they may develop different habits that amuse us. Most of their obsessions will last for only about two years unless the child has developmental issues.
So, by the time they reach three or four years old, sometimes five, kids will already outgrow their obsession. Toddlers will mature and learn self-control and understanding and wean themselves out of their habits.
A persistent habit that does not fade away and is uncommunicative on the part of your child warrants medical attention. Talk to your doctor if the obsession with their mother’s hair seems unusual and odd.
If they also start to pull their own hair, eyebrow, or eyelashes, it can be a serious condition called trichotillomania and needs immediate evaluation.
Helping babies overcome their habits
Children are fast learners, but they need their parent’s guidance to succeed out of it. You will want to wean your child out of any obsession not because the act is annoying and painful on your part.
You want to wean them to help them outgrow it. Teach your toddler to give up the habit by redirecting their attention from the things they are obsessing.
Here are a few insightful tips to keep your child occupied in activities other than your mane.
1. Find a replacement
If your baby cannot help but run his finger through your hair, consider other toys or fiddle devices he can play with.
Toddlers are likely prone to the habit during breastfeeding or before bedtime. A new toy, stuffed animal, or a baby doll with hair may divert the baby’s attention off your hair.
However, be careful in giving babies toys that pose a choking hazard. Always consider safety and give your little one the age-appropriate toys to play with.
2. Verbal response
Babies are born with innate understanding, and proper communication with them is a good start for expanding it. Communicate your disapproval by clearly saying “no” and removing his hand from your hair.
You can further assert yourself by removing the little hand and putting the child down. Give verbal praises if the toddler does not repeat the act. They will eventually get the point and learn from your clear and simple instructions.
As mentioned, a child’s habit will eventually fade as their understanding of their environment develops. But you know how toddlers can be stubborn sometimes. The more you call out the behavior, the more the habit will worsen.
If a negotiation seems to spiral the habit out of control, ignoring them can be a good idea. You will need to wait until it dwindles on its own. Until then, a short haircut or a hair tie will do you a good favor.
Is my child’s hair obsession the cause of my hair loss?
A clump of hair in your toddler’s hand can be worrisome. But whether your child is fiddling with your hair or not, postpartum hair loss is bound to happen to a woman three months after her childbirth.
Should I get concerned about my toddler’s weird habits?
A repetitive and uncontrollable hair pulling or twisting that your school-age child cannot let go of might be a sign of a developmental problem. If you think his behavior seems to create a negative impact, talk to your doctor about it.
Children come to a phase where they begin to explore their senses. Toddlers are often attracted to all dangling and moving objects and will not spare a mom’s hair out of their curious grasp.
The activity may become a habit or an obsession for children wanting to channel their emotions. But things will come and go, and all these will eventually end. Positive reinforcement may help parents work the habits out until children outgrow this stage.