There are times that it does not matter how much you clean. You can sweep and vacuum constantly, and your toddler will find fuzz or other items to put into their mouths. Is this a normal behavior? This is truly not an uncommon habit at the toddler stage. However, it is a bad habit. There are tips and advice you can utilize to end this habit in your toddler.
A Good First Move
Speak to your child’s pediatrician. He or she may find a reason your toddler eats fuzz. It could be something missing in their diet. It’s time to work on breaking this habit. Speaking with the toddler and explaining that they should not put fuzz into their mouth
because it is dirty and bad is the way to start. There is no reason to make the toddler fearful of the behavior. Explain the reasons in a way that your toddler will understand.
You can remove the fuzz from your toddler’s mouth and offer another object. Ideally, one that is meant to be chewed on, such as a teether. Biscuits or cookies are other items to offer. However, offering a pacifier is not an ideal substitute, as this could create another habit.
There are toddlers and adults alike that compulsively put items into their mouth that should not be there. Items such as ice chips may not be as dangerous. However, you must continue to monitor your toddler. This compulsive behavior is called PICA. Those who put non-edible items into the mouth, such as paint chips, fuzz, and hair is a disease. Speak to your pediatrician about this behavior in detail. Pica can be caused by a nutrient deficiency such as iron or zinc. This is not to say that your toddler has PICA; it is something to speak with your pediatrician about.
When you notice that your toddler has put fuzz into their mouth, you need to remove it. Then focus on distracting your toddler away from the fuzz. Keeping his or her favorite toys near, or pieces of fruit or other edible snacks can work wonders in the distraction method. It may be that your toddler enjoys music and dancing, remove the fuzz, turn on music, and dance their fuzz desire away. You could also get down to their level and play with the toys. Distraction can and does work wonders most of the time.
It may begin to feel endless, but vacuum and sweep more often to eliminate the fuzz. Also, using a lint brush may help remove the fuzz from blankets and carpet. Many homes have eliminated having carpet on their floors. The hardwood floors, tile, or linoleum does not “hold” onto fuzz the way carpet or rugs do.
Have A Conversation
Talk to your little one. Something as simple as talking to them may distract them long enough for them to forget what they were doing. If it is a fuzzy book, they are licking or chewing on, grab the book from them and start to read it to them. You can explain that the characters do not like it when the toddler tries to eat them. Distract the toddler by asking them questions about anything. It will likely take their mind off the fuzz.
Is Your Child Exploring?
Many toddlers pick the fuzz off of blankets, diapers, and clothing and eat it. Believe it or not, it is quite a common behavior. Many pediatricians will tell you that your toddler is exploring with the mouth. They want to learn the texture, the taste, and the outcome in their way. Toddlers tend to want to taste everything. Remember, also, when a child does not like the taste of something, they will spit it out. This leads to avoiding that item whenever possible.
New Teeth Or Sore Mouth
It may be as basic as that! Check your toddler’s mouth. Are they teething? Does their mouth look sore? Once you determine if there is pain or a medical reason, it will become easier to break the habit. By determining if there is a new tooth or some other pain, you can provide a substitute.
Many times a parent finds out that the toddler has an issue about textures. This would include the soft and fuzzy items too. Find a wide variety of textures that your toddler can explore. The items should be a larger size than what he or she can put into their mouth. On a personal level, I provided my child with a blanket that had the silky trim around the edge. The silky texture was a great distraction from the fuzz. With my son, we found toys with a variety of feels for him. At that point, anything was acceptable versus fuzz eating.
Make It A Game
As silly as it may sound, turn the fuzz eating into a game. Place a few different items out and ask them to pick one that is okay to eat. Also, go through and explain why it is good or why it is not acceptable to eat. When they choose correctly, make a big celebration for correctly identifying what the toddler can eat.
The Toddler May Outgrow On Their Own
You will come across many parents who have been through this with their children. It is common for children to put things into their mouths. Most children will outgrow these habits on their own. In the meantime, just keep a continuous eye on your toddler and be repetitive about not putting fuzz into their mouth. Teach them the difference between foods and fuzz.
Do Not Shame The Child
I understand that you will be frustrated. Do not yell or raise your voice towards the child as this can cause stress for them. Stress can be a trigger for this behavior of eating non-edible objects. Stay calm and patient. Try to find an acceptable substitute that the child can bite or chew.