Why Your Baby Plays With Your Hair, According To Science

Your sweet baby’s smiling face is looking up at you. Those adoring eyes are sparkling, and you just want to kiss those pudgy cheeks, and nuzzle their soft, sweet-smelling hair. So you lean over your baby’s perfect face, going in for the snuggle, and . . . ow. Your sweet baby has turned into a gremlin as they now have a fist full of your hair. Now you’re wondering how your beautiful baby suddenly turned against you and you're wondering, "why does my baby play with my hair?"

According to Betsy Marks, MD, an internist and pediatrician practicing in Albany, New York, there hasn't been a lot of studies done on this subject, oddly enough. She does say in an email to Romper, however, that generally, "babies tend to like to look at and touch objects that 'do something,' like, move or make a sound."

So what’s typically moving and dangling right in front of their eyes, at perfect reach? Your hair. It makes sense that your dangling hair would be interesting to a baby, especially since they create toys for babies that hang above them, like mobiles for their cribs, and toys that attach to a carseat or stroller handle. This also explains why they love to grab your favorite necklace or those cute dangly earrings you love so much.

As for why it’s typically hair, specifically, that babies love, Marks says it "may be something that babies like because it functions like a 'lovie' — a blanket or soft stuffed animal that they relate with being held and comforted."

Remember, babies are also learning about the way things feel, but if it’s hurting, try to redirect their attention to a soft blanket or plush toy.

So when do they grow out of it? Marks says it depends on the child. Some kids stop relatively early, while others still use it as a coping mechanism through their toddler years, and may even move on to their own hair instead of yours.

If what may be a comfort mechanism for your baby is definitely not comforting for you, perhaps it’s time to invest in some hair ties or getting a shorter haircut until your baby grows out of this phase. If the pain isn’t too bad, it could be a nice bonding moment between you and your baby, so let your mane flow free.