Babies are naturally curious, and one of the ways they express it is by putting everything they encounter into their tiny mouths.
Sometimes, that object is paper, which may seem unappealing to adults. But is it harmful if babies swallow paper?
Let’s discuss the reasons why a baby ate paper, when to worry, and what to do in such situations.
By learning the reasons behind this behavior, parents can promote a safe and healthy life for their little ones. So, let’s get started!
6 Common Reasons Why A Baby Ate Paper
Curiosity or teething discomfort can lead them to chew on things for relief, like paper. Sensory-seeking behavior is another factor where some babies crave tactile stimulation.
Hunger, boredom, or, in some cases, underlying nutrient deficiencies like iron or zinc can also prompt paper consumption.
Curiosity plays a pivotal role when it comes to a baby eating paper. It’s a natural human instinct, especially for infants and toddlers, to be curious about their surroundings.
The texture and accessibility of paper often make it an appealing object for their developing senses.
Young children might wonder what paper tastes like, and this curiosity drives them to put bits of it into their mouths.
For them, eating, touching, and feeling are ways to understand their growing environment.
A baby eats paper when their teeth are growing or coming in the wrong order. It can hurt their gums, and chewing on things like paper may help them feel better.
Chewing on paper feels interesting to them because of its texture. However, not all babies have this gum discomfort, and not all paper-eating is due to teething.
But if your child seems uncomfortable, teething could be why the baby swallowed paper.
Sometimes, babies eat paper since they enjoy how it feels in their mouth.
Imagine a baby who likes the crinkly sound and texture of paper. They might put it in their mouth not because they’re hungry or curious but because it feels good.
Some people enjoy playing with fidget toys or objects with different textures.
However, not all babies who eat paper have a problem. Some just like exploring with their senses, and that’s normal.
But if your little nugget is eating a lot of non-food items like paper, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor to ensure everything is okay and get tips on keeping them safe.
Why do babies eat paper? Hunger can be a straightforward reason. When babies miss a meal or snack, they can become quite hungry, and their little tummies start to grumble.
In such situations, they may use non-food items like paper to ease their hunger when food isn’t readily accessible.
Then, they might spot a nearby piece of paper and, out of desperation, try to eat it, thinking it could help fill their empty belly.
Boredom can prompt a baby to swallow paper. When they don’t have other activities or objects to keep them engaged, they may munch on paper to pass the time and entertain themselves.
It usually happens to a baby in a room with few toys or activities.
They might get a piece of paper within reach, and out of sheer boredom, they decide to put it in their mouth. The texture and taste of the paper might provide a temporary distraction.
Pica Or Nutrient Deficiencies
Pica,a condition where individuals eat non-food items , can be another reason why a toddler ate paper.
It involves a strong craving for substances like dirt, clay, soap, or chalk, which have no nutritional value.
Sometimes, paper consumption in babies can be a sign of this condition. It could raise concerns about potential nutrient deficiencies.
For instance, if a child lacks essential nutrients like iron or zinc, it may develop pica, where they feel a strong urge to eat non-food items.
As a result, these nutrient deficiencies can affect a baby’s overall health and well-being.
What To Do When Babies Eat Paper?
Immediate Action: Removing The Paper
If you catch your baby with paper in their mouth, stay calm and act promptly.
The good news is that as long as you can see the paper in your baby’s mouth, it likely hasn’t reached their throat.
Your baby might be able to spit it out by themselves, so gently encourage them.
Avoid overreacting, as it may frighten the baby and increase their risk of swallowing the paper.
If your baby cannot spit it out, carefully remove the paper from their mouth, being gentle and cautious.
Observe For Distress Or Discomfort
After removing the paper or ensuring your baby has not ingested it, keep a close eye on it for signs of distress or discomfort.
In most cases, babies will be just fine after ingesting a small piece of paper.
However, you should remain vigilant. If your baby experiences digestive symptoms like vomiting or abdominal pain, it’s essential to consult a doctor immediately.
Additionally, watch for signs of allergic reactions, such as skin rashes, dizziness, breathing difficulties, or changes in behavior.
Any unusual or concerning symptoms call for a prompt medical evaluation.
Choking Hazard Awareness
Recognize the potential choking hazard associated with paper ingestion. Larger pieces of paper could pose a choking risk to your baby.
If you suspect that your child may be choking on paper or any other object, seek immediate medical assistance.
Familiarize yourself with choking first aid techniques to respond quickly and appropriately.
Make Your Home Baby-Proof
Baby-proofing your home is vital to protect your child from potential paper-related hazards. Below are some of my suggestions:
- Use child safety locks on cabinets to keep paper and non-food items out of their reach.
- Use safety gates to block off areas like home offices where paper might be present.
- Keep paper stored on high shelves, maintain clutter-free countertops, and dispose of paper waste properly.
- Secure cords, cover electrical outlets and anchor heavy furniture.
- Remove small objects that could be enticing to your child, and install window guards to prevent access to window sills.
- Steer them away from non-food items, and encourage their curiosity with age-appropriate toys.
- Always supervise your child during playtime and educate them on safe exploration while setting clear boundaries. These measures create a safer environment for your dearest to explore.
Redirect The Behavior
If your baby consistently shows an interest in eating paper, redirect their behavior towards safer alternatives.
Offer suitable chew toys or edible objects like carrot sticks or apple slices to satisfy their oral stimulation needs.
Keep a close eye on them during playtime and provide gentle guidance to discourage paper consumption.
Seek Professional Help When Needed
If your baby ate paper with ink constantly and has some worrisome symptoms like throwing up once a week, seek professional help.
Consult your pediatrician or a child behavior specialist to evaluate your baby’s behavior. They can assess whether there may be underlying issues.
Remember, as a caregiver, your role is to create a safe and nurturing environment for your baby’s healthy development.
Following these steps and finding doctor’s guidance when necessary can help ensure your baby’s well-being and promote safe exploration of their world.
How To Prevent Babies From Eating Paper?
Regular, Nutritious Meals
Ensure your baby receives regular, nutritionally rich meals at intervals of one and a half to two hours.
This helps satisfy their hunger and prevents them from seeking alternative sources like paper out of restlessness or hunger.
Teething can trigger the desire to chew on objects, including paper. Provide teething toys or chilled fruit to soothe their gums.
Breastfeeding and gentle gum massages can also help alleviate teething discomfort.
Consider how your baby’s sleep habits might relate to their paper-eating tendency.
Sometimes, babies may reach for things they dream about during sleep, which could explain why they eat paper.
You can establish good sleep routines for your baby to lessen this behavior.
Ensure they have a consistent bedtime and nap schedule, create a calming bedtime routine, and provide a comfortable sleep environment.
Can Your Baby Die From Eating Paper With Ink On It?
No, your little one cannot die from eating paper with ink on it. Ink is minimally toxic and typically not harmful when ingested in small quantities.
It may, at most, cause a mild upset stomach or result in stained skin and tongue.
What Are Some Other Chew Toys For My Babies?
Several alternative chew toys are suitable for your toddler’s oral stimulation needs. Consider silicone toys with various shapes and textures designed to soothe sore gums during teething.
Rubber teethers are another option, featuring soft and flexible materials with added sensory stimulation.
Cloth or fabric toys, like cloth teething toys or plush animals, can provide tactile variety.
Besides, some toys can be chilled in the freezer for a more relieving effect. It’s best to ensure all toys are made from baby-safe materials and are age-appropriate to ensure your toddler’s safety.
It’s quite common for babies to explore their surroundings by occasionally tasting or chewing on paper.
A baby ate paper because of curiosity, teething discomfort, or sensory-seeking tendencies.
While consuming small amounts of paper doesn’t pose severe health risks, creating a safe environment, providing appropriate chew toys, and ensuring babies have regular, nutritious meals are vital.
Caregivers can promote a safe and healthy developmental journey for their babies by understanding the reasons behind paper consumption and taking proactive steps.