What should I do when my baby pulls other kids' hair?

Q: My baby has started pulling other kids' hair. What should I do?

A: When a baby tugs another child's hair, he's not doing it out of malice -- he's just showing a developmentally appropriate curiosity. By 7 to 8 months, infants begin to understand that they can control their own muscles and movement, and that's what they're experimenting with. Remember, your baby's actively exploring his world, and trying to understand what response his actions get. Of course, that doesn't mean the behavior should be encouraged. Instead, when your baby tries to pull someone's hair, give him a toy or other object that's okay for him to play with and touch. Distraction and substitution work best at this age. It's okay to gently say no, but the most important thing is to direct baby toward something safe and desirable. Hair pulling typically subsides around age 1. --Diana McKeon Charkalis

Originally published in Child magazine, September 2003. Updated 2009


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