How to Get Toddlers to Stop Eating Their Boogers

"Mining for gold," "excavating the nasal cavity" and "picking a winner" are all clever euphemisms for a common issue many young children possess: nose picking and chronic booger-eating. The habit might make your skin crawl, but the University of Michigan Health System points out that nose picking, and the subsequent consumption of nose goblins, usually begins because of chronic allergies, infection or a slight trauma. Whatever the case, consuming boogers isn’t only disgusting; it can actually lead to a nasty cold or respiratory illness.

  1. Explain to your older toddler that consuming boogers can actually make him sick. Sit the child down and remind him how boring and icky it was the last time he had a cold or the flu. Let him know that eating boogers can lead to another nasty cold that could keep him from that sleepover planned for Friday night. Reasoning is lost on a younger toddler, so just watch him carefully and tell him "no" calmly and gently when you notice the unwanted behavior.

  1. Keep your child’s nose clean. Periodically help an older toddler or preschooler blow her nose and clean out the inside with a tissue. A younger toddler doesn’t always grasp the complexities of blowing her nose, so don’t hesitate to drag out the dreaded nasal aspirator and suck out all that excess phlegm.

  1. Remind your toddler that nose-picking and the subsequent consumption of the "nose gold" is unacceptable. KidsHealth cautions against making the child feel bad for performing the habit. Instead, give him a heads up by reminding your child that booger-eating is unhealthy and doesn’t look good, and Mommy doesn’t like it.

  1. Provide your child with a distraction and an alternative to picking her nose. recommends giving your older toddler a clever alternative, such as tapping the end of her nose. When in doubt, you can always distract your child by taking her outside for a quick game of catch or coloring a picture together.

  1. Moisten your child’s nose with saline spray or run a humidifier in his room at night. points out that a dry, irritated nose can often start the cycle of picking and eating boogers.