Eating paper or even dirt, and other non-edible materials, in childhood can indicate a behavioral disorder. It usually hits at the age of one to six years old, and it affects approximately 10 to 30% of kids this age. This problem can also happen in adulthood but it’s rather common for kids.
Why do babies eat paper? Because they probably developed a pica disorder. Pica is an eating disorder where usually kids eat things that are not considered food.
This disorder is not considered a healthy development resulting in some mental difficulties in a child’s behavior.
Although a lot of infants would often suck on paper to calm themselves down. However, if you take a look at your own baby or take one into the hospital and observe them with special attention, they are constantly chewing on something.
Sometimes it could be food like an apple or banana but sometimes it’s even little pieces of paper that are left behind by parents. Putting other materials into the mouth is the way of exploring the world around them.
But kids that have the pica disorder, are beyond that. They often tend to chew not only paper but dirt, chalk, hair, etc.
This behavior, which is often shown in kids at a young age, can lead to health problems and developmental disabilities. This can be the answer to why do babies eat paper?
What may also happen, but it’s not that common, is that pregnant ladies can also crave strange things, such as non-food materials.
A woman who is experiencing pica usually has a tendency to eat dirt, and it’s probably because the woman lacks iron and zinc in her body.
How do I know if my child has pica?
Kids that have a compulsive eating disorder, in this case, pica, are diagnosed with constantly eating unusual things, especially non-food materials.
These are not things like nail-biting or chewing hair or toys from time to time, but rather constant eating things that are making them feel sick. If you think your child may have this pica disorder, you should take him/her to the doctor. And there goes the answer to why do babies eat paper?
Common symptoms when having this disorder are: baby’s stomach is upset and in pain, there are bowel problems like constipation or diarrhea, and maybe even blood in its stool.
If you notice any of these unusual eating-type behaviors, take your child to the doctor to make sure everything is okay. The doctor will provide a full examination.
First, the baby’s stomach will be checked, like if the baby has bowel-related symptoms. If there’s doubt that the child had any development problems, the doctor will ask the parents if they’ve seen a child eating any non-food items. If the answer is no then it’s not the pica disorder your child is having.
On the other hand, if the answer is yes and it’s been happening for more than a month, then there’s the possibility that the child will be diagnosed with pica disorder.
In this case, the doctor will run some blood tests, to make sure your baby doesn’t lack any vitamins, such as zinc and iron. Also, it’s necessary to check if the blood is clear from other toxins that the item may have caused.
Pica has been observed among children and adults who lack appropriate nutrition in their diets. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides the nutrients needed to prevent pica.
Apparently, if a child’s diet includes vegetables such as tomatoes just before bedtime the child won’t be so inclined to eat other things for nighttime snacks like dirt or coal.
At what age can pica be diagnosed?
Pica disorder can usually happen to kids between the ages of one to six. Despite the rarity, it has also affected a pregnant woman as well.
This type of putting things in the mouth is normal behavior for kids up to the age of 2. So, if the child is older than the stated age, and it still keeps eating uneatable items, it may have a pica disorder.
How can you prevent pica disorder?
Why do babies eat paper? Because they probably have a pica disorder. How can we stop it? Unfortunately, this disorder cannot be prevented.
But if you give your child adequate nutrition it can slow down or even keep the disorder from further developing.
The best thing to do is to monitor and pay attention to what your child’s been eating. Especially if your baby has a tendency to put out non-food items, you might be able to detect this problem at the earliest stage.
To keep your child out of eating those materials, try to move those items out of the baby’s sight, as well as monitor what they are doing when they are on the playground.
Why do babies eat paper? This might be a thing you don’t have to worry about. When babies are growing, they are slowly starting to put things in their mouths. This can be their way of exploring the world around them, or just have their teeth grown so it feels nice when they rub things on their gums.
On the other hand, this might be a sign of pica disorder. A pica disorder is an eating disorder where usually children of the age of one to six, tend to eat non-food items. And there goes the answer to why do babies eat paper?
At this stage, babies keep eating habits that cause them pain while consuming things like dirt, clay, or ice.
Pica is associated with other mental health disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa and can lead to malnutrition and other health complications due to vitamin deficiencies later in life.
If your child has already been diagnosed with pica disorder, make sure to give her/him a proper diet and nutrition. This can prevent problems from developing any further than it already is.
Try to keep your baby away from the materials that it’s been eating and keep an eye on the toddler when it is playing outside. Trying to keep your baby happy and healthy it’s what’s important.