By Cat Bowen

Up until last year, I would have monthly trips through my son’s wardrobe to browse his t-shirts. I’d pick out the shirts that had been chewed through, holey and stretched, and toss them into a seemingly ever-growing pile of brightly colored rags. More than once in those years I wondered, why do kids chew on shirts? It’s maddening, and also feels kind of gross.

When children are little, no one questions chewing behaviors, because they’re considered a reasonable way for babies to learn their environment. They put everything in their mouths, noted Parents, which is why toys designed for babies are designed so that they won’t choke on them. It’s only when kids get older that it becomes a peculiar behavior.

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