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Why do some children chew their clothes?

Kids chewing on their clothes, hair or fingers is a common issue that parents and teachers have seen in students with autism, ADHD and sensory issues. There can be several reasons why a kid is chewing. If you are a concerned parent make sure to talk to your child's doctor to rule out any possible medical issue.

Here are the most common reasons:

  • Chewing can be calming. Think about it when you eat you tend to relax. The act of chewing can be a way for kids to calm themselves.
  • Chewing can also help children focus. Students may be chewing on their clothes at school as a way to help them stay focused and pay attention.
  • Children may be chewing on their clothes or non-food items because they have a dental issue. We have heard from many teachers and therapists that children start chewing when molars are coming in or they have a cavity. This can be especially true of a child who is nonverbal and may not be able to communicate that they are having a problem inside their mouth.
  • Some therapists have suggested that there is a connection between children who do little physical activity and chewing. The theory is that everyone needs to move and children who are inside a lot or have trouble with movement may chew as a way to release pent up energy.
  • Some children may chew on their clothes because they need to stimulate their jaw muscles. This is especially true of kids who eat a soft or pureed diet.
Here are a few items we recommend for chewers: