Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kids Chewing on Clothes

I can't tell you how many times my son has chewed holes in his clothes. He went through a phase where the kid could not stop chewing! Chewing holes in clothes is definitely not good, but I really became concerned when I walked into our living room and found him chewing on an aluminum frame. What could I do?

First as usual, I started investigating. With any investigation I always start with the source, my son. (I am a firm believer that there is always a reason our children do something.... but that's another post.) I couldn't see much of a pattern as to when or where my son was chewing. It seemed he chewed more in the living room, but that was it.

Next phase is to investigate what the professionals say. I learned a couple of reasons why kids chew.
  1. It can assist with attention and focus. Lots of kids are chewing on their clothes at school, because they were chewing as a way to help them pay attention.
  2. They have a dental issue, either molars are coming in or they have a cavity.
  3. Chewing is calming.
  4. There may be connection between not moving and chewing. The theory is our bodies need to move, expend energy, kids who are inside a lot or have trouble with movement tend to need to chew. Thus chewing releases pent up energy.
  5. They have a need to stimulate their jaw muscles. This is especially true of kids who eat a more soft or pureed diet.

First thing I did was take G to the dentist. Molars were coming in and guess what he did have a cavity. We got his teeth fixed, but he kept on chewing. Next I talked to his teacher, she did noticed he was chewing a lot when sitting at his desk. That's when I got it, he's chewing in the living room, where the TV and his jet videos are. He may be chewing to help his attention.

Since I believed his body was using chewing as a means of helping him pay attention, I tried to find some appropriate ways for him to chew. His favorite thing ended up being a blue chewy tube. Now that I have been at this for awhile I've seen several items that have helped parents:

Chewelry: This is a chewable coil necklace or bracelet (pictured above). Lots of kids love these because they spring when you chew on them. There is also a Mega Chewelry Necklace for kids with a stronger bite.

ChewEase Pencil Toppers (Clear Chewable Pencil Toppers): These are clear tubes that slide over a pencil that a child can chew on in class. Because they are clear they are not noticeable.

Teething Bling: The nice thing about Teething Bling is that it looks appropriate for older children to wear. I know we chose the "Camo" versions to sell at National Autism Resources because you can chew on them and the camouflage design doesn't show teeth marks like some other chewable pendants. The one bummer is its not springy. These things are made of silicon so they give a little when you bite down, but not as much as the Chewelry or a Chewy Tube.

Grabbers or Chewy Tubes: These are safe FDA approved chewers that are durable and time tested.

Chew Toys: Did you know some people actually let their kids chew on animal chew toys? I worry about this because these toys don't have as rigorous testing standards. However, there are lots of chewy toys designed for babies that are good. One of our favorites is a Grab Ball. The only downside to this is they don't look appropriate for older children.


Chynna said...

Jaimie has chewed since she was very tiny. We had one of those cribs that turns into a toddler bed (she still has the bed part right now!) and we can STILL see all the bite marks on her bed!

She not only bites and chews but picks and rubs too. I find these chewies serve all of those purposes.

And we are definitely getting a few of those pencil toppers. =D

Thanks for this post, Bonnie. I'll link to ya!!


Sue from Oz said...

My son has always chewed things a lot esp. when compared to his younger brother. He seems to have stopped this now but that's only recent. I didn't mind the fingernail chewing stage too much as it meant I didn't have to try and cut them (lol).
I always put it down to him compensating for the lack of oral stimulation from his limited diet (though there are some strong flavours he likes).
Wish I'd known about all the chewy stuff when he was chewing his clothes.....

Nancy said...

I am so glad you said that about animal chewing toys--you just don't know what's in these items and it's not that expensive to buy the various chewing toys from the various catalogs like Integrations.

Bonnie, have you found that nutritional interventions make a difference? I have heard that magnesium deficits (easily cured by an epsom salt bath) can increase the chewing.


Sharon said...
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