Hair Pulling in Babies: Reasons & How to Prevent It?

Hair Pulling in Babies – What You Can Do?

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rashmi Prakash (Psychologist/Psychotherapist)
View more Psychologist/Psychotherapist Our Panel of Experts

Have you ever wanted to pull your hair in frustration? Have you ever seen your little one doing it? Among various other weird habits that babies develop, one is hair pulling. Yes, your little one may develop this habit, but there is no need to panic because he may pull his hair or someone else’s hair because of many possible reasons. However, it is important that you help your baby to get rid of this habit. The following post discusses why babies pull hair and what you can do to stop your baby from doing so.

Why Do Babies Pull Hair?

It is normal for babies to pull their hair. Some babies may outgrow this habit in time, while others may not. This is when you, the parent, will have to step in to help your baby get rid of the habit. Generally, a baby may pull his hair to grab his parent’s attention, but he may pull his own hair if he is tired, sleepy, or irritable. Whatever the reason, the habit of scratching the head and pulling hair in a baby is pretty daunting for the parents. So, if you are wondering why your baby pulls his or her hair while eating, sleeping, feeding, or doing other such activities, then it could be from grabbing your attention to becoming self-aware of his body and surroundings and persistently exploring it. It can also be characterised as an exploration of cause and effect. Let’s take an example: when a baby watches himself in the mirror, he may try to touch his nose or tug at his hair to explore.

Some may pull their hair when they are overstimulated, frustrated or when experiencing tantrums. You may commonly find this in toddlers tantrums when they scream, cry, and pull their or others hair.

However, sometimes the hair pulling may be a sign of some serious problem such as ‘Trichotillomania’. Trichotillomania is a medical condition which may be characterised as a compulsive urge to pull one’s own hair. This medical condition requires medical intervention. If you notice this condition in your baby, you should talk to your paediatrician about it.

However, before that, you may try some ways to stop hair-pulling in your little one. Read on to know more.

Is Hair Pulling a Sign of Autism in Babies?

Among other behaviours of autism, hair pulling is also one, but a very insignificant one. However, this behaviour alone does not indicate autism in a child. There are several other signs that need to be medically checked by a health practitioner to diagnose autism in a child.

How to Stop Hair Pulling in Babies and Toddlers?

Getting angry at your baby because he is pulling his hair won’t help. Your baby is too young to understand your anger, which is why you need to try something different to help him outgrow this habit. So, here are some ideas that you can try to put a stop to this annoying habit of your little one.

1. Chop Your Baby’s Hair

If you are concerned about your baby’s hair pulling habit, chop his hair. If your baby has long hair, then certainly, he will be able to pull them. However, if you don’t want to chop your baby’s hair, then you may tie his hair in a ponytail.

2. Exhibit No Reaction

When your baby pulls your hair to grab your attention, and you listen to him, he may keep doing that again and again. Remaining quiet and not reacting whenever your baby exhibits this kind of behaviour can slowly and gradually help him let go of this habit.

3. Try Saying No

Your words matter a lot to your baby. If your baby is pulling his hair and you say ‘NO’ to it, he may obey your command. Whenever your baby starts pulling your hair, pull away from his hand and say ‘no’. Doing this every time will help your baby understand that pulling hair is unacceptable behaviour.

4. Be Firm

Babies may not understand your language, but they surely understand gestures. If you don’t approve a certain action, you need to make your baby understand that. However, make sure you act consistently and show your disapproval whenever your baby pulls hair; otherwise, it may confuse him. You need to be firm and consistent in your commands.

5. Replace Positive With Negative

Whenever your child pulls your hair, gently take his hand off your hair. You may take the same hand and let him gently stroke your cheeks. While you do so, you can make cute little pleasing gestures and remarks. This will help your baby understand what behaviour will be liked and what will be disliked.

6. Try and Distract

Sometimes, pulling hair may just become a game for your little one, and he may enjoy it. You can try distracting techniques here. Try and divert his attention towards another toy or some other activity, and soon he will forget and won’t pull his hair.

7. Say It Again and Again

Babies need to be told everything over and over again. Your baby won’t understand anything about pulling his own hair or your long tresses right away. You will have to be patient and persistent because there’s still time for your little one to understand words, what they mean, and how his actions affect him and the people around him. Repetitively distracting his mind and replacing hair pulling with something positive/better could help him stop pulling hair.

When Does Babies Stop Pulling Hair?

In most cases, the hair-pulling episodes in babies start around six months of age and end before two years of age. The cause could be anything from curiosity and trigger to stress and self-soothing.

When to Seek Doctor’s Help?

If you see your newborn pulling own hair, then it is a very common thing in the early years of infancy. However, if it continues and does not get better soon, you must consult a doctor. Here are some cases when an infant hair-pulling situation goes beyond home remedies and you must consult your doctor:

  • Baby’s hair-pulling causes bleeding
  • Baby has also started pulling eyelashes and eyebrows
  • There are bald patches on the baby’s scalp
  • Hair-pulling behaviour often accompanies colic episodes 


1. Will Trichotillomania in Infants Go Away?

Trichotillomania, aka trich, is characterised by an urge to pull out their hair. Since there is little research on the causes of trich, there is no particular cure. Providing the children therapy required for this condition, making some lifestyle changes, and being patient with them could effectively manage this condition, ultimately suppressing the triggers and desire for pulling their own hair.

Babies come up with all kinds of funny fascinations, and there is no need to worry or panic because they outgrow these habits with time. However, if your baby is still not giving up this habit, try out some of the above-mentioned tips to help him get rid of this newly acquired habit.


1. Trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder); NHS;

2. Masiran. R; Autism and trichotillomania in an adolescent boy; BMJ Case Rep.; PubMed Central;; September 2018

3. Stein. M. T, Clemons. R. D, Newport. J; Temper Tantrums Impulsivity, and Aggression in a Preschool-Aged Boy; American Academy of Pediatrics Publications, Supplement;; April 2001

4. Trichotillomania; The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network;

5. Quick Guide to Trichotillomania; Child Mind Institute;

6. Trichotillomania; MedlinePlus;

7. Emotional and Social Development: 8 to 12 Months;;

Also Read:

Hair Loss in Infants
Baby Putting Hands in Mouth
Baby Body Hair In Newborn

Previous article «
Next article »
Aarohi Achwal holds a bachelor’s degree in Commerce and a master’s degree in English Literature. While working as an intern for an English daily, she realised that she likes writing above anything else. The idea of being heard without having to speak appeals to her. She likes to write research-based articles that are informative and relevant. She has written articles on pregnancy, parenting, and relationships. And she would like to continue creating content on health and lifestyle.