Can’t find daddy’s wallet? Before panicking see if the little one is licking and feeling the leathery surface.
Where is mama’s favorite hair clip? Most likely, it is lying somewhere near the baby smeared with saliva.
Starting six months, most parents complain how their baby seems to be putting EVERYTHING in his/her mouth. Let us try to understand why babies do this and how to stop this potentially dangerous habit.
Why Do Babies Put Things In The Mouth?
Your babies’ fingers are not very useful yet. But her hands are. This means that babies can reach out for things, they can grab them, and then can even bring them closer to – but they cannot really use their fingers to explore the objects yet. Their mouths and tongues, on the other hand, they are adept to use freely. So in order to satisfy their curiosity and explore the object in hand, they use tongue instead of fingers. Moreover, their tongues are super sensitive with numerous nerve endings – so, putting something inside the mouth is the easiest way babies can “feel” the texture of anything. It is simply a behavioral pattern that all babies go through, and it allows them to explore and know the stuff lying around.
What Are The Dangers Of Putting Things In The Mouth?
- Babies could choke: This is one of the biggest dangers of babies taking everything to their mouth. If the object the baby is putting in mouth is small enough to fit into the baby’s mouth, then there is a good chance he/she might swallow it accidentally. This increases the risk of choking greatly as your baby’s airway is still so tiny. Read more about infant choking here – Infant Choking – Hazards, Symptoms, Prevention And First Aid
- Babies could be poisoned: Not all items in your house are baby-safe. In fact most items are not safe for babies. Imagine a baby sucking on a leaking battery! Or a medicine tube! Or washing soap! Or lipstick!!! Click here to read about potential poisonous things in your house
- Babies could get infected during group play: Now sucking on a rattle or a ball will definitely not make your baby ill. However, during group plays, when your baby sucks on something another baby (who is unwell) has sucked, then the chances of infections spreading are very high
How Long Will My Baby Continue To Put Things In The Mouth?
As we said earlier, babies do this mainly because their dexterity is still low. They cannot freely move their fingers to feel, prod and stroke something. As they grow older, they become smarter at using their fingers. As they become experts in prodding and feeling with wither fingers, they become less likely to take something to their mouths. Generally kids achieve this by the time they are two years old. Usually, by the time they are three, most kids would definitely stop putting things in the mouth. As of now, you need to ensure that your baby’s play area is safe of objects that could pose a potential danger and be watchful.
So, meanwhile, what can you do?
3 Tips To Stop Babies From Putting Everything In Mouth
- Move things you do not want in your child’s mouth out of the way: Well, one way you can ensure they do not put everything in their mouth is to ensure they do not have access to anything! Keep items that are toxic and choking hazards well out of the way of your child. Clearing just the bedroom is not enough. Remember your baby can crawl. It is a good idea for you to get down to the ground (at your baby’s level) and look around the house to see what things the babies can reach. You should also tell everyone else in the house, especially other kids, to ensure they do not put dangerous items on the floor
- Give something safe for them to chew on: Another way to ensure they do not put everything in their mouth is to give them something harmless to put in the mouth. There are many toys like teethers that are available in the market that are safe for your baby to suck on. Invest in few of them (as baby might get tired of same toy) in different colors, shapes and textures. And put it all around the baby
- Supervise: Till an age when babies are smart enough to understand the dangers of licking and swallowing random things, remember that they are accidents about to happen. Remember they are explorative and creative. Even if you think you have moved everything dangerous out of the way, they might still find something to nibble on! So, always ensure that there is someone who is looking after the child