How to stop toddler from hair pulling for comfort

May 28, 2018 | New Parents Survival Guide | 3 comments

My 14 month old toddler is constantly using hair pulling as a way to soothe himself! It all started when he was 3 months old, and is progressively getting worst. Hair pulling wasn’t an issue when he was a baby as he was so gentle and he looked so cute when he touched my hair and soothe himself to sleep. I was even happy that I could stop him from crying or put him to sleep so easily just with my hair.  But as he grows and gains strength, the hair pulling gets harder and harder. My hair is getting pulled out, and my head hurts from the constant hair pulling, especially at night. Sometimes, he would pull on a few strands of hair for hours! It’s totally driving me nuts. 

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So why do babies/toddlers pull mommy’s hair?

Apparently, hair pulling behavior is associated with thumb sucking. If your baby/toddler uses a pacifier, chances are they are not using your hair for comfort  (lucky you!). Also, it is often associated with long hair mommies. Many babies love long hair as they are often soft and easy to grab. Babies need soothing objects, it could be a pacifier, a teddy bear, a nice soft blankie, or in this case, your hair. Most importantly, remember that your baby is not pulling your hair to hurt you, he/she is doing it because he/she needs you.

How to Stop Toddlers from Hair Pulling?

There are several ways to stop your toddler from hair pulling. Since all toddlers are different with varying degree of stubbornness, you might need to experiment with some/all of it before you find your solution.

Offer an alternate soothing object It could be anything. Stuffed animals, pacifiers, and blankies are the usual choices for soothing objects. Some moms are more creative and offer wigs and barbie dolls. Hopefully your toddler will be satisfied with the alternate soothing object and let your hair go free!

Hide your hair I tried to hide my hair by tying them back and using a nightcap to cover my hair at night. It worked very well in the beginning. Kayden would try to look for my hair, and would eventually give up and falls asleep when he couldn’t find any. However, after a few nights of success, he figured out a way to get his little fingers into my nightcap, and managed to pull out a few strands of hair. I ended up giving up on this idea, but it might work for you! You can also try to cut your hair short. My baby doesn’t seem to like my hubby’s hard because they are short and hard. I’m not ready to give up my head of beautiful long hair though.

Stop the thumb sucking Since hair pulling and thumb sucking come in a combo, the logical way to stop the hair pulling is to stop the thumb sucking. It’s actually a negative cycle – the more he sucks his thumb, the more he pulls on my hair, and the more he wants to suck his thumb! My pediatrician has suggested putting olive oil or something bitter on Kayden’s thumb to discourage him form sucking. However, it is not working for us. Kayden seems to like the olive oil taste. Hopefully when he gets older, we can talk some sense into him.

Stop co-sleeping The ultimate way to stop your toddler from pulling your hair at night is to stop co-sleeping with them so that they don’t have access to your hair. Sleep training might be the way to go, or simply get someone else (your hubby~) to take on the co-sleep duty. I personally can’t do it yet as I’m addicted to co-sleeping. But if you are ok with no co-sleeping, this would be the ideal solution for you.

Use white noise  I love using white noise. My baby calms down almost immediately when I turn on my handy-dandy Baby Mozart white noise app. Similar to using an alternate soothing object, you can try to use white noise to soothe your toddler so that he/she could fall asleep on her own without pulling your hair.

Show your toddler it’s not ok to pull mommy’s hair This is currently what I’m doing now in combination with white noise. Whenever Kayden reaches for my hair, I’d block him gently and say “no baby, you are hurting mommy”. I’d hold his little hand and pat him to help him fall asleep. This is a long battle. I have to do it more than 20 times the first night, and he of course protested by crying when I did it. But it’s getting better, after almost a week of doing it, I only have to wake up 2-3 times a night to stop him from pulling my hair, and he no longer cries about it. Hopefully, this would teach him it’s not ok to pull my hair and he would eventually stop doing it.

Hopefully these tips can save you from having a bald spot from all the hair pulling! Leave a comment if you have any other tips!

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