Why Do Kids Eat Boogers?

It might be gross and disgusting, but kids do pick their noses and eat boogers.  See any group picture of a bunch of kids and it’s a sure-fire bet that one of them will be picking their nose. Likewise with those adorable bridesmaids, all dressed up in flowers and bows for the special day and many a wedding picture spoilt by the sight of that innocent looking little angel with her finger stuck up her nose.

So why do kids eat boogers? One theory is that because kids are young, they haven’t yet learned any social filters, so they don’t understand that this practice is unacceptable. So, if another child is picking his or her nose at school, others will think it is ok to do likewise.

Nose picking is not only for children of course. Most adults do it sometimes too but usually in somewhere in private because it is so socially unacceptable (and doing it in the car does not count as private because we can all see what you are doing!)

Nose picking is not a problem unless it becomes an obsession. Some people develop rhinotillexomania – which is obsessive nose picking which can lead to nose bleeds, damage to the nostrils and no friends. However, this is a rare condition, and it can be cured via counselling and therapy.

Nose picking may be a normal if private activity for most people, however we can’t imagine that many adults eat it too. So why do kids eat boogers when even other people who pick their noses obsessively don’t?

According to Scott Napper a biochemistry professor at the University of Saskatchewan, why do kids eat boogers is simply because they like the taste. Yes, its gross and disgusting to even think about this, but apparently the slightly sweet taste is agreeable to kids. In addition, the practice may help to boost the immune system so it is possible that the kids who choose to do this, may be driven by their own needs. This is just a theory, according to Scott Napper and is yet unproven.

The good news is that most kids grow out of the habit soon enough. However, if it has become engrained, you may need to help your little one break this cycle. Why do kids eat boogers is just one of those things from childhood that we probably all did ourselves, so it is perfectly normal. But if your child’s finger keeps straying to his or her nose every time there is a quiet moment you may need to think of something else to keep his or her hands busy. A small toy, a pop ball or something else that your child can fiddle with instead of the nose will soon help to break the habit.