Why Does My Kid Chew On His Shirt?

Why Does My Kid Chew On His Shirt?

Have you ever wondered why your child constantly chews on his shirt? It may seem like a peculiar habit, but there are actually several reasons why children engage in this behavior. One possible explanation is that chewing provides sensory stimulation for kids with sensory processing challenges. By biting on their shirts, they can find comfort and regulate their sensory experiences. Additionally, chewing on clothes can also be a sign of anxiety or stress, as it provides a soothing mechanism for children.

Understanding why your child chews on his shirt can help you address this behavior effectively. It is important to note that this habit is relatively common and usually harmless. However, if it persists or becomes a cause for concern, seeking guidance from a medical professional or therapist can be beneficial. They may offer strategies to help redirect your child's chewing behavior, such as providing alternative oral sensory tools or addressing any underlying emotional issues that may be contributing to the habit. By addressing the root causes, you can support your child in finding healthier ways to cope with their sensory needs or emotions.

Why Does My Kid Chew On His Shirt?

The Science Behind Why Kids Chew on Their Shirts

It's a common sight to see kids chewing on their shirts, sleeves, or collars. While this behavior may seem odd or concerning to parents, it is actually quite common. There are several reasons why kids engage in shirt-chewing, ranging from sensory stimulation to teething. Understanding the underlying reasons can help parents address the behavior appropriately and provide alternative solutions. Let's delve into the science behind why kids chew on their shirts.

1. Sensory Stimulation

One of the primary reasons kids chew on their shirts is to seek sensory stimulation. Chewing provides oral motor input, which can be calming and soothing for children. Many children with sensory processing issues or sensory seeking behaviors find that chewing on objects, including their shirts, helps them regulate their sensory system. By chewing, they are able to stimulate their oral muscles and feel more grounded and focused.

Chewing on shirts can also serve as a self-soothing mechanism for children who may feel anxious, overwhelmed, or overstimulated. Just like adults may bite their nails or twirl their hair when nervous, kids may resort to chewing on their shirts as a way to cope with emotions and release tension. It provides them with a form of sensory comfort and can help them feel more secure in challenging situations.

If your child chews on their shirt for sensory stimulation, it might be helpful to introduce alternative sensory tools, such as chewable necklaces or bracelets, to redirect their chewing behavior. These sensory-friendly options can provide the necessary oral stimulation while protecting their clothing.

2. Teething

Another common reason why kids chew on their shirts is teething. Teething is a natural process during which a child's first set of teeth start to emerge through their gums. This can be a discomforting experience for infants and toddlers, causing them to seek relief by biting or chewing on objects, including their shirts.

Chewing on their shirts provides counterpressure on the gums, which can help alleviate teething pain. The fabric texture may offer a soothing sensation and can distract them from the discomfort they are experiencing. It is important for parents to understand that teething is a normal part of a child's development, and providing safe and appropriate items for chewing can help ease their discomfort during this stage.

When teething is the primary reason for shirt-chewing, it is advisable to offer teething toys or other safe objects specifically designed for this purpose. These items are made from materials that are safe for children to chew on and can provide relief from teething discomfort while protecting their clothing.

3. Oral Motor Development

Chewing on shirts can also be related to the development of oral motor skills in children. Oral motor skills refer to the coordinated movements of the lips, tongue, and jaw that are necessary for eating, drinking, and speaking. Just like babies explore their world through mouthing objects, older children may continue to use their mouths to develop and strengthen these motor skills.

Chewing on shirts can provide opportunities for children to practice their oral motor movements, such as biting and grinding. It allows them to exercise their jaw muscles and improve their chewing abilities. This behavior is more commonly observed in younger children who are still refining their oral motor skills, but it can persist in older kids as well.

If your child engages in shirt-chewing for oral motor development, it may be beneficial to provide them with appropriate chew toys or food textures that can support their oral motor skill development. Encouraging activities like chewing gum (if age-appropriate) or offering crunchy snacks can help satisfy their oral sensory needs while promoting oral motor development.


Understanding why kids chew on their shirts can help parents approach the behavior with empathy and find suitable solutions. Whether it's for sensory stimulation, teething relief, or oral motor development, there are alternative options available to redirect their chewing behavior. By providing appropriate sensory tools, teething toys, or encouraging oral motor activities, parents can support their child's needs while keeping their clothing intact.

Why Does My Kid Chew On His Shirt?

Understanding Why Kids Chew on Their Shirts

Many parents often wonder why their kid chews on their shirt. This behavior, known as shirt chewing or oral sensory-seeking, is quite common among children. It is important for parents and caregivers to understand the reasons behind this behavior in order to address it appropriately.

One possible reason for shirt chewing is oral stimulation. Chewing on shirts provides sensory input and helps children regulate their emotions and reduce anxiety. It can be a coping mechanism for kids who are feeling overwhelmed or nervous.

Additionally, shirt chewing can also be a sign of teething. When children are teething, they may experience discomfort in their gums, leading them to chew on objects such as shirts for relief.

In some cases, shirt chewing may be a result of a developmental disorder like autism or sensory processing disorder. These children may engage in repetitive behaviors to self-soothe and fulfill their sensory needs.

If your child is chewing on their shirt, it is important to redirect this behavior to more appropriate alternatives. Providing chew toys or sensory tools can help meet their oral sensory needs in a safe and healthy way. It is also advisable to consult with a pediatrician or occupational therapist for further guidance and support.

Key Takeaways

  • Chewing on shirts can be a self-soothing behavior for some kids.
  • It could indicate a sensory processing issue or anxiety in children.
  • Consulting with a pediatrician or occupational therapist can provide guidance.
  • Offering alternative sensory tools, like chewable jewelry, may help redirect the behavior.
  • Teaching stress-management techniques can also be beneficial for kids who chew on their shirts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about why kids chew on their shirts:

1. What causes kids to chew on their shirts?

There can be several reasons why kids chew on their shirts. It could be a sensory-seeking behavior, where the child craves oral stimulation. This can be seen in children with sensory processing difficulties or Autism Spectrum Disorder. It could also be a way for the child to cope with anxiety, stress, or boredom. Some kids may have learned this behavior from their peers or siblings. It's important to understand the underlying cause of the behavior to address it effectively.

2. How can I help my child stop chewing on their shirt?

First, it's crucial to observe and understand the triggers for your child's shirt chewing. If it's a sensory-seeking behavior, providing alternative oral sensory tools like chewy necklaces or chewy toys can help redirect the biting/chewing need. If anxiety or stress is the cause, helping your child develop healthy coping mechanisms, such as deep breathing exercises or engaging in calming activities, might be beneficial. Creating a supportive environment and working with a professional, such as an occupational therapist or psychologist, can also be helpful in managing and addressing shirt chewing behavior.

3. Is shirt chewing harmful for my child?

Shirt chewing itself may not be harmful to your child, but it can lead to other issues. Chewing on clothing can damage the fabric, leading to increased clothing expenses. It can also cause social embarrassment or teasing from peers, which can impact your child's self-esteem. In some cases, excessive shirt chewing might result in dental problems or jaw pain. It's important to address this behavior and find appropriate ways for your child to fulfill their chewing needs.

4. When should I seek professional help for my child's shirt chewing?

If your child's shirt chewing affects their daily functioning or causes distress, it may be beneficial to seek professional help. A healthcare provider, such as a pediatrician, occupational therapist, or psychologist, can conduct an evaluation to determine the underlying reasons for the behavior and provide guidance on appropriate interventions. They can also help rule out any underlying medical or dental conditions that may be contributing to the shirt chewing.

5. How can I explain shirt chewing to others?

When explaining your child's shirt chewing behavior to others, it's important to emphasize that it is a common behavior seen in many children. You can mention that it may serve as a way for your child to seek sensory stimulation or cope with anxiety. Offer information on the steps you are taking to address the behavior and reassure others that you are working with professionals to support your child's needs. Encourage open communication and understanding to reduce any stigma or misconceptions surrounding the behavior.

To wrap things up, if you've been wondering why your kid chews on his shirt, there are a few possibilities to consider. First, it could be a form of self-soothing or a way for him to relieve stress or anxiety. Chewing on his shirt provides a sensory input that helps him feel calmer and more grounded. It's important to observe if there are any triggers or patterns that precede this behavior.

Secondly, it could be related to sensory processing issues. Some children have a heightened need for oral stimulation and seek it through chewing on objects. If your kid frequently chews on things other than his shirt, it may be helpful to provide alternative chew toys or oral sensory tools to redirect this behavior.