Why does my baby like to eat paper?
You are seated on your comfy couch watching your baby cooing as they explore the world around them, looking at cute as ever.
Then you take your eyes off for a second to look at a message or notification on your phone. When you look back up at your baby, you are filled with disbelief!
You do your best to remain calm so your baby doesn’t catch any bad energy. But momma, we both know… inside, you are freaking out.
Your baby, still oblivious, is contently seated ever so cute, munching away on a piece of paper, with smaller pieces strewn all around them. A quick job in five seconds.
You drop everything and make a beeline for your baby. Doing your best to remain calm so your baby doesn’t detect any changes in energy, you feign a smile and lift them off the floor that you just cleaned with organic products… because only the best for your baby.
You gently, but determinedly, nudge the paper out of their equally determined tiny grip, as a flood of worst-case scenarios start to fill your mind.
You think of the chemicals used to make paper.
What are the side effects of these? How will they affect your baby? You hear your baby’s tummy rumble, that’s it. Where’s Google?
You quickly find your phone on the couch and frantically open the browser where you type “ why does my baby eat paper” and impatiently wait as the list of suggested reasons populate the page.
Below is an organized list of the top reasons your baby is eating paper:
Consider your baby’s developmental stage
The first thing to consider when your baby does anything is their current child development stage.
How many months is your baby?
Every one of us acts within the confines of a development period. We may not perfectly fit or check all the boxes but these periods are guidelines to give us more information on what to expect.
Understanding what to expect during a developmental stage allows you to easily narrow down the possible causes of “why does my baby eat paper”.
Since each developmental stage brings changes and patterns, using the child development stage chart is a great tool and compass that sheds more light on the causes for your baby’s actions.
Some examples to consider:
- Are they crawling or learning to walk and moving independently? This usually happens between six to ten months. The could be exploring, which means they are using more energy and quickly going through their energy reserves. New feeding schedule would benefit them. More on that below.
- Are their teeth coming in? Teething causes discomfort in most babies which leads them to reach for anything they can find to soothe their discomfort. You can help them by giving them chilled fruit, a little ice that you could rub on their gums or if breastfeeding you could calm them by breastfeeding which is a good opportunity to teach them not to bite.
Your baby could simply be curious about the world around them and want to taste everything. You can use this as a teaching moment, to gently steer them to know the difference between what is appropriate to eat and what is not.
Your baby could have pica, the craving or desire to eat non-food items, which is explained in detail below.
Your baby could have Pica
Pica is the term used to describe a person’s craving, desire or habit of eating non-food items with zero nutritional value.
Pica is a common response in humans and animals to satisfy a nutritional deficiency. It is often a strong craving that causes extreme discomfort as the person can only think of satisfying it. It is the body’s way of urgently seeking nutritional compound for which it might be deficient.
Pica is highly common in pregnant women, especially those who aren’t getting enough nutrition to support their own body and that of the unborn child.
Pica is also common in women who lose a lot of blood during their menstrual cycle.
Watch out for nutritional deficiencies.
As always, it’s best to check with your pediatrician for more information regarding your baby’s health. They will run tests to ensure your baby’s development and health are in the appropriate zones. This will help to determine any nutritional deficiencies your baby might be experiencing due to eating paper.
Pica can be treated with improved diet that offers the baby adequate nutrition often.
Not enough food
Babies are growing and need to be fed at least every one and a half to two hours. This is because babies are developing rapidly, are extremely active, and need a good constant source to replenish their energy as often as possible.
Did you know the brain uses 20% of the energy we give our bodies?
Now imagine a baby’s needs. They are new to the world and are in constant awe. Babies are always learning and absorbing information. Doing so requires a lot of work and energy. Coupled with their need to move around and explore, your baby’s diet must provide the energy necessary for your baby’s daily life. When your baby eats paper, be extra mindful of nutrition.
Babies who are not given nutritious meals every one and a half to two hours tend to become restless, unhappy and eat everything in sight.
They are little problem solvers and are highly in tune with their instincts, which leads them to solve their need for nutrition and energy to power their explorations by eating the thing they are craving.
Modify your baby’s eating schedule. Have your little one eat every 1.5 to two hours. Make sure your baby’s food has high nutritional value to easily fuel their growing bodies.
You baby is teething
Teething is a very sensitive time for babies and can be uncomfortable. During this time, they reach for anything they can find to soothe their gums. Fortunately, there are many teething toys available on the market. Exploring these safe remedies can help your baby’s teething experience.
To help your baby stop eating paper while teething, try giving your baby chilled fruit. As previously stated, only feed your baby once every 1.5 to 2 hours.
You could also massage your baby’s gums with clean fingers. Alternatively, you may massage your baby’s gums using a clean, cold cloth. Ensure this cloth has zero preservatives or chemicals on it.
Make sure to wipe your baby’s drool away and keep their face clean to prevent irritation.
Give your baby a chilled teething ring to chew on. Do not dip the ring in sugar or any sweet substances. Doing so could cause cavities for your baby, which are extremely painful and are best avoided when it comes to your little one.
Cavities may encourage your baby to eat paper even more often.
If breastfeeding, breastfeed your baby often. It will help calm and comfort them while teething. Breastfeeding also teaches your baby not to bite as their teeth start coming in.
Your baby could be curious
A baby eating paper could also be a simple case of curiosity. Babies are growing and learning about everything around them. Sometimes, they even have a strong urge to taste everything around them!
How does the paper smell to your baby?
At times, your baby may think paper smells appealing. The smell of paper may be causing your baby to consume paper. However, doing so may cause diarrhea and other complications.
Always steer your baby away from non-food items.
It is important to make sure that they are always well fed with highly nutritious food, which often helps override their need to taste paper of non-food items.
Feeding your baby often also helps them form good food habits. Develop a healthy relationship with food. Having a healthy eating schedule keeps your baby content, secure, and less irritable.
Behavioral problems from eating paper?
Babies are often well-behaved when well-fed. They become uncomfortable if they are lacking in nutrition and act out as a way of communicating their needs.
It is imperative to keep your baby well-fed, clean, loved, and cooed over. We hope this article has helped you figure out why your baby enjoys the consumption of unhealthy substitutes, such as paper.
So next time you ask, “why does my baby eat paper?” consider the above reasons when helping your baby find a better outlet.