Chew Tactics: Curbing The Nail Biting


Is your kid a chewer or biter? Well, welcome to the club!

My child has never had a go-to soothing mechanism  (aside from an extended stay at Hotel Boob), and then, at 3.5 years old, she started a vigorous nail biting habit. At first, I thought she was just discovering how to do it and that it was just a phase. And when it continued, I just assumed her nails were too long and I filed them down. Soon, the ongoing nail biting had evolved into toy and sippy cup chewing. Her stuff was not only damaged by her teeth, more importantly, her fingers were getting sore from the constant chewing.

As a child (and ashamedly still sometimes as an adult), I was a nail biter. I remember all of the tricks – the hot sauce on the fingertips and the special bad-tasting nail polish. But I could not bring myself to try those tactics on my little girl, especially at such a young age. So, I knew I had to take on a different approach. The oral fixation or sensation to chew had to be relieved in another way. I then remembered a hard, plastic heart necklace I had when I was young that I chewed on. Perhaps I was onto something…

A local children’s shop I frequented, Rubie Tuesday’s Boutique, carried adorable beaded teething necklaces. If those BPA free, super safe beads were safe enough for a teething baby to chew, maybe they’d work for my daughter. When I presented the idea to my little Ladybug, she was pretty excited about the fact she was gaining a new wardrobe accessory. So, we went ahead and bought a cute set of the chew beads.

Ladybug was chomping on that necklace non-stop at first, which really helped in keeping her hands out of her mouth. We are now about a month into using the beads and they still work about half of the time. I sometimes remind her to use her beads instead of biting her nails and even hand them to her on occasion. They have been most helpful during car rides, television watching and story time. And they still look super cute too!


Ladybug sporting her adorable chew beads.

A few extra tidbits:

    • Chewing and biting urges can be as simple as a sensory stimulation or seeking behavior. However, if the habit seems to be stress related or somewhat serious, it is recommended you seek advice from a doctor.
    • Always be sure to monitor child for safety while using any type of jewelry (although most of these necklaces come with an easy break-away clasp).
    • Looking for something more subtle or unique? Or maybe industrial strength for a heavy bite? Check out these options from Ark Therapeutic.
    • Teething necklaces can be purchased at many local baby boutiques and stores as well as online companies.


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