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Why Does My Child Eat Sand? | Is Eating Sand Healthy?

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Why Does My Child Eat Sand? | Is Eating Sand Healthy?

Why Toddlers Eat Soil and SandWhy Does My Child Eat Sand? | Is Eating Sand Healthy? Why Toddlers Eat Soil and Sand

Why does my child eat sand? Is there a mineral or trace mineral deficiency, or is he/she mentally stunted? Will he/she be licking the windows of the school bus when he is in junior high school?

Your child might be mentally challenged, and that’s the way it is. I myself pretty much overcame it with some effort. Eventually…

But if your kid is eating dirt or sand, that is probably not why… There are logical reasons why a child might enjoy the occasional dirt-snack.

Here are some other questions we’ll be dealing with:

  • What is geophagy?
  • Is eating sand healthy?
  • Why does my baby have two heads?

Just making sure you are still paying attention.

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Why Do Some Children Eat Sand or Dirt?

What happens when kids eat sand? Is it harmful when a toddler eats sand or dirt, and why do they do it?

If you look over and see your toddler with a fist full of sand, or soil from the fern pot in the corner, there is likely a reason for it, outside of some kind of genetic mental deficiency or that bump on the head that you have been watching to see the consequences of. This is probably not that. 

Be concerned if they are still eating dirt or sand (or paint chips, or bugs, or cigarette butts…) at the age of 12. This is called pica.

Pica can affect even adults, but we aren’t going to talk much about that. For now we will address the quite common tendency of toddlers to eat sand and dirt, why they do it, and to what degree we should be concerned about it. And I wouldn’t consider pica a disorder in a toddler. I find this silly, considering how common it is for toddlers to eat things that aren’t food, and the fact that nearly all of them soon grow out of the habit.

What Is Geophagy?

Geophagy is a fancy word for “eating dirt”. I just thought you might want to know that.

what is geophagy? Is There a Mineral or Trace Mineral Deficiency?

One reason many toddlers eat sand or dirt is that they haven’t yet been socially conditioned yet to thinking dirt is “dirty”, and shouldn’t go in that big hole at the front of their head where all those amazing and diverse sensations happen when they put various things in it.

As well, they may enjoy the texture. They are still discovering different physical feelings and the textures of things. It could be more curiosity than anything else.

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Is There a Mineral or Trace Mineral Deficiency?

Another thing that may have crossed your mind as to why your toddler is eating dirt or sand is that there may be a mineral or trace mineral deficiency.

Beyond curiosity there could be an iron deficiency in the child’s diet, or a lack of some other trace minerals. This is not unusual, especially these days, with the soil being significantly depleted of these minerals due to how food is now commonly grown. It is difficult for any of us to get enough trace minerals (our bodies don’t naturally make them) from our food, because of this. Dirt is going to still be a better source than the foods that used to contain much more of them.

Vitamins B12 and B9 could also be lacking in your child’s diet. Here is an amazing supplement for these recently common deficiencies in toddlers. 

Is Eating Sand Healthy?

Is eating sand good for you, or your child?

For a small child, eating sand or dirt here and there is actually a good thing. There is this stigma about dirt, which is pounded into us at a very young age. And this is reasonable, to a point. Dirt and sand can contain things are unhealthy, or even dangerous.

But good old dirt—or sand—from a place where there is no likelihood of contamination by anything dangerous, will help a toddler build his/her immune system. This is another reason small children are built with an innate inclination to eat dirtIs Eating Sand Healthy? and sand. One of the worst things we can do is not allow small children to build up their immunity, early on. A parent who neurotically protects their child from anything that might resemble a germ will cause the child to be frequently sick, as they grow up.

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It is evidently very hard to convince many people of this concept these days, if you know what I’m saying…

The fact is, exposure to germs is necessary, to not have serious health issues down the road.

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This made me chuckle, but only because you don’t expect people to claim such things:

Eat Sand to Stay Fit and Preserve Your Health

“I have been eating sand daily for the past 40 years. When young, I tried it for fun once. Since then, I am used to it. My brothers and relatives pestered me to quit it but it was all in vain. I have no health hazards. Although I quit mud concrete, I could not get rid of eating sand. I eat on an average around one or one-and-a-half kilos of sand per day.”

This lady previously experienced regular pain and stomach issues, and after beginning her regiment of eating sand, she now reports being entirely free of these issues. She is 80 years old.

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Excellent Trace Mineral and Vitamin Supplement for Children

As usual, I would not steer you wrong. I have not been able to find a better, or more complete trace mineral / multivitamin for enfants than this. I would give a child 1-2 years of age half of the regular dosage for kids over 2.

trace minerals for small children

Trace Minerals ®, Kid’s Multi, Tropical Punch, 8 fl oz (237 ml)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  “Provides all the essential vitamins and minerals my kids need and they love the taste! Great quality product for the money. No corn syrup or high in sugar like a lot of the other brands.” 

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  “Product excellent! …since starting to eat I have noticed that my child is healthier and less ill.​ This product is very good.”

Excellent! For the second time I take these vitamins for the children of my friend, who is very happy with the quality. They are suitable for children under 2 years, one of the few.

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To Sum It Up

Well, if you didn’t know whether or not eating sand is healthy, or why toddlers eat soil and sand, now you know. If your kid is eating sand it is nothing to panic about, unless he or she is playing near a nuclear power plant, or the like. The odd dirt-snack will  be far more nutritious for them than a Pop Tart or a Popsicle.

It is processed “foods”, which are so shamelessly and relentlessly marketed for children that we need to watch out for. 

I am not saying that if your toddler is showing a predilection for eating dirt, sand or mud that you should give them a spoon. But an immune system needs to learn how to be an immune system, and the sooner the better.



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4 thoughts on “Why Does My Child Eat Sand? | Is Eating Sand Healthy?”

  1. Wow, thanks Daniel. I was not aware of how widespread a practice geophagy has been in the word, over time.

    As far as I know it is not that popular in North America, but then maybe it is just not widely talked about. It seems like it is so pounded into us that dirt is “dirty”… 

    I very much appreciate you adding your knowledge. Cheers! 

  2. I have to admit that I still eat some questionable things, now and then. No dirt or sand, recently, I’m proud to announce…

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. Really great website! This was so informative. Eating soil is a practice known as geophagy. The word geophagy derives from Greek words meaning earth and to eat. Many believe that earth has medicinal properties, and consuming it can have positive health effects. People have practiced soil ingestion for thousands of years to treat a wide range of ailments. In some cultures, eating soil is part of daily life. Some believe that eating soil can strengthen the body, promote digestion and detoxify the body naturally. Scientists have conducted many studies on the health benefits of geophagy, and they’ve found positive results for both children and adults. Scientists have also discovered that people from around the world eat soils of different types. Clearly, this practice has widespread cultural acceptance.

    I learned that traditional healers have used geophagy for thousands of years to treat gastrointestinal issues. In India and Pakistan, people eat channa soil to cure constipation and inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis. They believe that channa soils promote better digestion and nutrition by increasing the appetite and stimulating the appetite. In Indonesia and Malaysia, people eat kenari soils to relieve stomachaches and indigestion due to spicy foods or alcohol consumption. They also eat kenari soils to combat diarrhea, decrease fever and recover from colds. In China, soils are eaten to relieve abdominal pain, gas and bloating caused by excess food in the stomach. Additionally, geophagians chew sandstones for sore mouth ailments, including dental problems and toothaches. Basically, geophagy has several well-known medicinal purposes; it can be used to treat a wide range of medical conditions.

    Who knew it would be that common! 

    Do you know how common geophagy is in the USA or other first world countries?

  4. Thank you for this! I have 3 kids and my wife and I have often discussed why our kids ate some of the things they did when they were younger as well as why we ate some of the things we did when we were younger haha. I found this article very informative and I will be sure to second guess stopping a child from eating dirt 🙂

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