As my niece turned four months old, she developed this habit of pulling my sister’s hair. When I first noticed her grabbing them, I was amazed at how much strength her tiny little hands had to keep going at it.
In the beginning, it was quite exciting to see her try to hold onto something, try to pull out a thread she saw hanging loose, and sometimes chew her tiny stuffed bear’s face off. But as she grew older, she followed the drill with me as well. Her grasp got stronger, she pinched harder and all her antics that were once adorable – were eventually painful.
You can refer to it as wandering hand and mouth movement.
What exactly does this mean?
When an infant is between four-six months in their development stage, it’s common for them to pinch or bite adults they’re fond of or who they see daily. We can call it a milestone. As they explore their surroundings, they start noticing and feeling things around them. And since they are often in their mother’s arms, among others, the toddlers try to get the taste of skin by biting, pull at one’s hair to see their reactions, and pinch out of curiosity! Some kids also try to nibble on your fingers and other parts of the body. This could be their way of comforting themselves when they’re hungry (1).
All living beings follow a certain pattern and form a habit; babies too do the same and learn from it. They will repeat the same drill without realizing that they can hurt others in the process.
If your baby is at the age where they are keen on leaving no stones unturned to figure out how you emote to their certain behaviors, here’s how you can calm them down and teach them to get out of the habit of pulling, pinching, and biting.
- Pacify Your Baby Very Gently
Your infant is going to notice your every move. So it’s a given that when they pull a strand of your hair or leave a scratch mark on you, they see how you react to the pain. All-in-all, the way you respond to them. If your child is any less than one-year-old, then you can put a stop to their behavior very calmly.
Did your little one just pinch you? Move their hands away. Are they trying to bite you on your neck or hand? Just place two of your fingers in their mouth to distract them and let them nibble on it. Don’t stop there. Make sure to convey to them that it hurts you. Nod and say, “No, honey. That’s hurting me.”
- Don’t Make A Big Deal Of The Situation
If your baby is a bit older, they begin to recognize your reactions and may think it’s funny. And will do it constantly to get you all worked up and get you to give them a loud reaction. Don’t react aggressively. Instead, act like it is no big deal.
- Show Them There’s A Plan B
Since every parent has a different parenting style, find new ways to show them how they can do things differently. Whenever you feel like your infant is hurting you while trying to be affectionate, show them how they can touch someone without causing pain. If they bite you on your hand, stop and give a peck on theirs! Do it a bunch of times to help them recognize the difference between the scenarios.
- Cast Out The Temptation
The best way to stop your baby from constantly pulling, tugging, and pinching you is to get rid of the temptation. For starters, tie up your hair and wear a buttoned-up shirt. Once they don’t have any access to the spot, they will eventually grow out of this phase.
- Create A Positive Environment
Needless to say, your baby looks up to you. Sometimes, they react based on their environment. So try and ensure that you set a good example for them. Don’t go to squeeze their cheeks too hard or leave them in alone too long – it may create fear in them and send a wrong message. Treat them delicately, and they’ll reciprocate the same way.
Your baby is growing, and that means you are going to face new challenges every day. So whenever your baby pulls, tugs or pinches you in the process, see it as a phase that won’t last very long, and reason with them as kindly as possible.