My Heart, Your Home: My Daughter pulls out her hair...   

Saturday, 12 January 2013

My Daughter pulls out her hair...

My Daughter has this very strange and quite disturbing behavioural habit. It is one that I have been trying to break for quite some time now but I am not having any luck in doing so. As she goes to sleep at night, or when she is bored, she will rub her dummy through her hair, twisting and turning it. As a result she has been slowly pulling out clumps of her hair, day by day. To the point that her beautiful long curly locks are now half as thick and half as long.

I have recently made the decision, for the second time, to take the dummy away from her in order to try and salvage her beautiful locks. This is a decision that I struggle greatly with. Evelyn has only ever used the dummy to go to sleep with and it has never been a cause of concern for me. It comforts her, when I cannot. She was a happy child to go to bed, she would fall asleep easily and she would sleep the whole night through. If she did ever wake up, she would keep herself entertained. So, you see, taking the dummy away from her is just not a decision I would be making if it werent for this incessant hair pulling.

I tried the first time to take it away from her when she was 18 months old and the whole process was a nightmare. She howled. She screamed. She begged. She didn't sleep, at all. She was unhappy and in return, I too was unhappy. So after a month of preserving I gave her back the dummy. In an instant, she fell asleep. She went back to enjoying going to bed, so much so as to even take me by the hand to her bedroom and tell me it was time. She was happy again and so was I.

However, after giving her the dummy back her hair pulling only became more aggressive. She now has two bald patches on either side of her head. Every morning, her dummy would be covered with hair. It was worse than it had ever been before. So, I decided to try again.

And I am struggling. I don't want to take it away from her. I don't want to see her suffer. She has instantly regressed to no sleeping again. She hates to go to her bedroom. She hates the sight of her Rabbie and her bottle and her sleeping suit(all things that she has in bed). When we do start to get her ready for bed she all of a sudden wants something to eat, or a drink, or anything that can distract us for that tiny bit longer for her to avoid going to bed. When I walk her into her room she hugs me so tightly and begins to cry. To beg, "mama no, mama no, mama no" over and over again. My heart breaks, every single time. She then cries, wails, screams, begs and pleads for hours and fights that wave of tiredness to the very end before finally crashing out. When she wakes, she is instantly upset, calling for me straight away. 

Gone are the days of her taking herself to sleep, entertaining herself in the morning, having day naps. She is beginning to turn into a terror child, once again and both she and I are no longer very happy with each other. It is breaking her to not have that dummy and in turn, is breaking me to watch her so sad.

I am struggling with this decision. I have persevered now for over a week and every day is just becoming increasingly more difficult than the last. I have noticed that she is still pulling at her hair, only now, it is with her hands. The next step, if I chose to continue down this path, is to take the bottle away from her. But this is another decision that I am just not ready to make. How unfair, to remove her dummy, then her bottle. Put her in a big girl bed. Then bring a new baby home. I am struggling. Every day I wonder, do I give it back to her? Do I shave her head and hope that breaks the habit? Do I keep going down this road and if so, when do I stop? 

I can see that she is not ready to give up the dummy. I, too, am not ready to take it away. This whole process has been full of angst and no reward and I am not sure how I am to move forward with it. I want Evelyn to be happy, well rested, content. The dummy gives her those things and I am taking away that very source. 

How do I continue this?


  1. What about if you got her a cute little pixie cut for a few more years? Would that make it hard for her to pull it out?

    Just brainstorming with you. ;)

    Bettina @

    1. I would assume the shorter the hair the harder it would be for her to pull out? She is in desperate need of a haircut after breaking all the ends so I guess a pixie cut would be somewhere to start. All these things that I just havent been ready to do yet are all of a sudden looming on my horizon xx

  2. For me, sleep is more important than anything.
    We had the hardest time getting Toddler C to nap and to sleep through the night and now that he is finally a good sleeper I wouldn't want to jeopardise that...we all a much happier family when we are all well rested!
    I agree with Bettina...could you cut her hair a bit?
    Or even find or make something like this for toddler?
    They are hideous but would probably get the job done!
    Good luck!

    1. I feel the same about sleep being important, but I just worry that if I dont break the habit this could become something that she travels through the rest of her life with. Which is why I keep trying to take the dummy away.

      Those headcovers, as ugly as they are, are actually kind of cute! I am not a sewer by any means but I am happy to order one! Thanks for the link xx

  3. Hugs to you Jess, this sounds really heart-breaking for you. Have you tries chatting to your GP or early childhood nurse? Thinking of you xx

    1. It really is an awful thing to watch. It seems so silly to be so upset by it as it is just hair that will grow back. My biggest concern is that she will end up travelling through the rest of her life with this and I would hate to see her as an adult, stressed out and pulling her hair out.

      I was booked in for the GP on Friday but after having my wallet stolen I had to cancel the appointment. Am back in for next week so hopefully she will have some suggestions!

  4. Hun have you heard of something called 'sensory processing disorder' - there's a chance that it could be something to do with that. Hopefully you dont freak out hearing the word 'disorder' but it may be your answer. My son has it, its really common x

    Check this out: See what you think :)

    Renee xxx

    1. I saw that suggestion a few weeks ago when I started researching this on the internet... it freaked me out big time and thats when I made the decision to try and take the dummy away again. That link though gives a greater insight to the disorder then the ones I was reading and doesnt sound so bad! How does it effect your son?

      I think I will mention this when I see the Drs next week and see if they can look into it for me xx

  5. I hated to even suggest it because the title does sound a lot worse than it actually is. It can manifest in many forms - it basically means that the sensory system may be a tiny bit jumbled is all. Its nothing nasty, nothing sinister. For me it just answered some questions. My son, is 5 and still does things like putting objects in his mouth ALL the time. His oral sensory system is jumbled and his mouth is 'seeking' more than a typical child would. He still needs a dummy to go to bed at night because for him its a 'calmer' - No biggie.. it all makes sense :)
    He also has trouble sitting still because his body is out of balance, he doesnt have a centre of gravity.

    I promise its nothing bad - if it is that, it will answer your questions more than anything xxx

  6. Hi Jess,

    I would recommend taking Evie to a peadiatruc Chiropractor that practices ENT, it sounds a bit hippy but it may help and prevent it from becoming a long term habbit. If it happen to be something similar to sensory processing disorder I am sure it will help. Sometimes it's a simple as something is out of balance from maybe the way they came out when birthed, or if they have just fallen on there bumb the wrong way. You poor thing, it is always something with these chickens. There sure know how to keep us on our toes. Thinking of you xx

  7. Oh, I wish I had the answers for you! Pebble has always loved to twist her hair when she goes to sleep but it's never led to clumps being pulled out. My bestie from primary school used to do this, even when she was school age. I hope you get it sorted before then :/
    I'm not sure if it'll help, but I wrote about how we got rid of the dummies with Pebble over at my blog. Just pop over and search 'dummy'. I would leave a link but I'll probably end up in the spam bin!