Why Do Kids Eat Glue? (And is it Dangerous?)

We all have those moments as a mom where we’re trying to figure out how to stop a new habit our kid has that’s nerve-wracking. It seems like eating glue is just a stereotypical thing for a kid to do, right? 

Something to add to the laundry list of behaviors where you find yourself walking into the room, backing out, and walking back in to make sure you saw what you saw. It never ends! 

No worries, if you’ve found your little one eating glue, we’ve got some common reasons they may be doing that and some solutions as well. 

The Main Reasons That Kids Eat Glue

Let’s get to one of the greatest mysteries out there; what drives a kid to eat glue? Why is it so appealing to the little ones, and what can we do to dissuade them from continuing?

Here are the top reasons you may find your kid trying to eat glue when you’re around:

  • Defiance
  • Attention
  • Curiosity
  • Pica


You’d be surprised at the complexities of a child and what can motivate them to engage in such behavior. Something as simple as a show of defiance could be the reason behind your child’s persistence in eating glue. It’s possible that the word “no” is exacerbating the ordeal altogether. Some children seek to defy, and eating glue is one way they choose to do so.


Similarly, a child who is seeking attention from their parents can use glue as a means to receive the attention that they crave. This kind of behavior is especially prevalent in children with brothers and sisters who inevitably have to share their parents’ attention. Children in this situation will always feel like they’re vying for the spotlight, and they will use your reaction to them eating glue to gain the upper hand.


Next on the list, good old-fashioned curiosity is enough to get your child to eat glue. Glue is, well, gloopy and seems like something you should probably have a taste of, apparently. It doesn’t help much that some glues come in vibrant colors, and others are even made with glitter. Sometimes these things are too tempting for them to resist at such an early age.

However, if it’s evident that none of those mentioned above reasons for eating glue serve as motivation for your child in particular, then your child may have Pica.

What is Pica?

Pica is an eating disorder whereby a person eats inedible objects and things. Young children regularly place non-food items in their mouths out of curiosity, and this is very normal. However, children with Pica take this practice to dangerous levels by actually consuming these items. It’s not unusual for a kid with Pica to eat things that lead to health problems themselves.

Here is a list of items that children with Pica often crave to eat:

  • Hair
  • Clay
  • Glue
  • Paper
  • Dirt
  • Rocks
  • Ice
  • Chalk
  • Paint chips
  • Crayons
  • Last but not least, but indeed very disturbing: Poop

What Causes Pica?

While there’s still speculation surrounding the actual cause of Pica, it is undoubtedly associated with children who’ve experienced significant stress. Moreover, children growing up in impoverished areas are more likely to develop this eating disorder. 

Children who have been abused may also develop Pica. Finally, Pica can serve as a sign of mineral deficiencies and malnourishment. So don’t hesitate to go to the pharmacy and grab those Flintstone Gummies! 

Is Eating Glue Dangerous? 

If the glue in question is Elmer’s glue or made with a similar formula, then the concern is more about how much they consumed rather than the actual tasting. Elmer’s, one of the most popular glue brands, uses a blend of an aqueous emulsion of polyvinyl alcohol, propylene glycol, and polyvinyl acetate, all of which are considered non-toxic. 

Essentially, you probably can’t pronounce a lot of ingredients, but they won’t seriously hurt your baby boy or girl. Even though it is improbable that your child would die from eating glue, eating this substance in large amounts can cause stomach pains.

So while eating glue isn’t the worst thing they can do, it’s not recommended to allow your child to carry out this behavior. Bellyaches notwithstanding, eating glue is a behavior closely related to illnesses such as OCD. It’s best to nip it in the bud sooner rather than later.

How to Stop Your Child From Eating Glue 

Surely you’ve tried, but because a simple no hardly ever works, you still haven’t figured out how to stop your little girl or guy from eating glue. Here are a few things that you can do to get them to stop if Pica is ruled out.

Change Your Glue

Some glues are more alluring than others; as mentioned previously, the color or extravagance of glue can appeal to your little tike’s senses. Merely making a glue change could quite possibly lessen your child’s desire to eat it.

Swap for Tape

Arts and crafts are essential for the child’s development, so we wouldn’t ask you to do away with it entirely for glue’s sake; however, you can engage in projects that do not require glue at all. Try swapping out the glue for tape when possible. Simply making glue less accessible by your child can curb this habit to some degree. 

Keep a Close Eye

Heavily monitoring your child when the glue is being used is a great way to ensure that they aren’t eating the glue as well. Moreover, if you just so happen to catch them in the act, you can gently reprimand them and reinforce the idea that it’s not healthy to eat glue. Maybe offer a healthy snack like an apple or crackers instead to take their attention away from the glue.

For the children that are in school, since you can’t be there, have a conversation with their teacher detailing the problem so that they know to keep an eye out for your little one.

Final Thoughts

As a mom, your child eating glue is something that’ll seem alarming. We’re here to tell you that you can channel that anxiety that you feel when you’ve just seen them lick the dollop from their finger. You’re not failing! They’re just little weirdos who want to explore the world and drive us crazy simultaneously. 

Chances are it’s not as bad as you may feel. Just keep the problem in its proper perspective: kids eat glue for one reason or another, and it’s not the end of the world. As long as you are attentive and diligent, you are sure to fix this problem. How many fires have you already put out so far? Broken bones that you’ve prevented? You’ve got this too!

Happy Momming 🙂

About The Author

Scroll to Top