My 2-year-old son has developed a new habit of eating the emulsion wall paint scratching it off the wall. He also eats sand, talcum powder, etc. He is doing this for some 3 months. His intake of regular food has reduced since then.
I took him to a paediatrician, he first gave a germ killer tonic and then gave calcium substitutes, but still, he is doing the same and not eating his food at all. he looks thinner now. I am worried. It can’t be normal that a toddler eats sand and paint!
Baby Help Line:
Toddler Eats Sand – Curiosity Or Possibly Pica
Your son is such a cutie! What a creative use of pegs, love the photo! (and he is not naughty, just learning!)
Now it sounds like your son has what is termed Pica – which comes from the word magpie! (Magpies collect everything) Pica is an eating disorder that is quite common among young kids – some 10% and 30% of kids ages 1 to 6 years have Pica. The disorder is defined as persistent and compulsive cravings (lasting 1 month or longer) to eat nonfood items, such as sand or paper for example.
To some extent for his age, it is normal to put everything in his mouth, as the mouth is one of the primary sensory organs in a small child. But it does sound like he is doing more than just tasting, or carrying things in his mouth.
Causes of Pica
I definitely would go back to your pediatrician. There are a couple of causes of Pica that I know of, and both are easily tested with a blood test. The most common is a lack of iron – anemia. Pregnant women often crave weird things and usually it is lack of iron. You can read about iron deficiency here as well as what are iron-rich foods for kids.
The other possibility is lead poisoning. Lead is in all kinds of things like pottery and used to be used extensively in paint. I am not sure about your country, but certainly in a lot of countries lead is no longer allowed to be included in paint. However, many families live in old houses, which have layers upon layers of lead-based paint. Your pediatrician can test for this also with a blood test.
Another factor that can contribute to Pica, is an emotional one, so if your son has had any kind of trauma, or a new sibling, or change in circumstances, it could be his way of dealing with it emotionally.
Try not to make a huge deal out of his strange eating habits, or you may just reinforce it. Just gently try to distract him with toys or a game or story. And do head for a doctor to run some tests.
Good luck sorting this out, I am sure your pediatrician will be able to narrow it down with your help.
Enjoy your lovely boy – he is gorgeous.
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