Almost after the birth of every mammalian, they tend to suck their mother’s breast for milk and colostrum. The tactile movement of hands and feet throughout the feeding is a primal and necessary action for the growth development of the baby. This learning becomes the baby’s vital key to exploring further via his developed senses. And ‘Tangibility’, of course, is the only way to reassure and believe in the existence of a particular object.
A baby explores the surroundings and uses his senses to learn from it. During the initial years, he develops all the five senses – smell, touch, hearing, vision, taste. Reaching the 6th month he almost put everything that comes his way straight to the mouth like things within his reach- his toys, hands, feet, fingers, mother’s cloth piece, etc.
Baby Putting Everything in Mouth? Is it safe?
Babies put all stuff in their mouth. This is known as ‘Mouthing’. This is a normal sign and gives an indicator that your child is growing interest in the world’s activities. A baby puts everything in his mouth to sense the taste of the objects. His tiny little hands clasp objects and move straight to the mouth. A reflex is an involuntary movement in response to the stimulus and babies are born with some reflexes. These movements produce responses and they try to put everything in their mouth to taste, determine the shape, or feel the texture of the object.
Mouthing is also a sign that his first tooth is ready to arrive. Usually, babies get their first tooth around his 6th month but in some babies, their first tooth comes around his 3rd month. When the first tooth starts coming, you will notice your baby dribble a lot and put things in his mouth.
Here, you have all the answers: What are the advantages and risks of mouthing, reasons for putting things in their mouth, and precautions you can take to keep your baby safe and healthy during his mouthing period.
Advantages of Mouthing
When your baby reaches and grabs what he desires and wants to know about the particular object further. He sends information to his brain like what is this? Is it soft or hard? Will it ring? Can I be able to gulp it? The baby wants to investigate these questions by putting the object in his mouth. Mouthing helps the baby to learn about the texture, shape, taste, etc of the particular object.
- Mouthing gives them the idea of what to eat and what not, what is tasty and what is not.
- Mouthing is a good sign and a natural phenomenon that exercises the mouth of the baby which makes his oral strong.
- Mouthing makes mouth muscles firm and helps to perform functions like eating and talking.
- It helps the baby to learn movements with the tongue to the area of jaws, lips, and cheeks.
- A baby tends to put everything in his mouth to subdue the sore gums.
- Mouthing leads to speech development in a baby.
- It helps in making the immune system strong to fight microorganisms.
- Mouthings develop the feeling of solid substance in the mouth of a baby which further helps in smooth chewing of solid foods.
- It gives the baby soothing effects and inner-calm.
Reasons for Mouthing:
- More nerve endings: Baby’s mouth has longer nerve endings than any other part of his body. So if a baby wants to feel something like the texture of his toy, he puts it straight into his mouth.
- Gag reflexes: There are certain reflexes present in a baby. Rooting reflex surfaces when his cheek is stroked making a baby turn towards the choked side. Suck reflexes make the baby touch the area around his mouth.
- A feeling of protective: Sucking his toes, hands is a way of handling the stimulation. Strangers handling them or any loud music makes your baby uneasy and he sucks on things to feel safe.
- A feeling of hunger: An infant is not familiar with the breasts and thinks that sucking on anything will provide the milk. This sign gives mothers an idea about the baby’s hunger.
- A feeling of being bored: Your baby can be bored with the surroundings like everyone may be sleeping while he wakes up and wants to play so he sucks his hands and fingers.
- A feeling of playing: If your baby sees hanging toys or other objects in the house that he can’t reach, he loves to suck his hands just to feel having those objects nearer.
- Feeling sleepy: Your baby becomes habitual of having a nipple when he falls asleep and when he doesn’t find a nipple he tries to put fingers in his mouth for himself to sleep.
- The feeling of soothing: If your baby has a wet diaper and no one is around him instead of crying directly, he will try to soothe himself by sucking his hands or fingers.
Things Not to Keep Near Baby
- Jewelry and accessories
- Plastic balloons and balls
- Medicines and first aid
- Inverters and batteries
- Toys containing liquids like playing cell phones
- Small toy parts
- Soil, mud
- Brushes with bristles
- Whole grapes and strawberries and fruits alike
- Chewing gums
- Cigarettes and ashtrays
- Nails and safety pins
- Rubber, sharpeners, and many more things.
Possible Risks of Mouthing:
- Choking: Choking is a perilous risk for babies who tend to put everything in their mouths. Choking can lead to the death of a baby. You should always supervise your baby and actively monitors his phase of mouthing. Choking is the major cause of Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Infections/ Diseases: The mouthing habit makes the baby gets exposed to infected objects or toys which are not washed and which hold germs. This can further make your baby get exposure to bacterial as well as viral infections.
- Poisoning: Mouthing is natural and inevitable. But, in case if kids swallow chemicals or anything dangerous like Lead, mercury, and ionizing radiation, cleaning chemicals, surfactants, etc, Things can go worst.
- Injury: Baby may get injured as a result of swallowing something sharp. Such injuries to windpipe and food pipe can do damages beyond repair.
Precautions When Baby Put Everything in Mouth
- Try to put small items or toys away from your baby. Always give him a toy three times bigger than his mouth.
- Never offer hazardous toys that have liquids and which have sharp ends that can hurt your baby.
- Give nibbler filled with fruits or teethers to keep baby off from other toys.
- Don’t give him big pieces of food items, not even fruits (grapes, cherry, etc) that may choke your baby’s throat. Give him puree of fruits and other food items in order to avoid the choking risk.
- Don’t wear any kind of ornaments that your baby can put inside his mouth. Try to remove your ornaments like bead bands, chains, buttoned shirts, and other accessories until your baby becomes sufficiently learned that these are not meant for him to eat.
- If your baby is older enough to understand the meaning of ‘’NO!’’, then say to him when he tries to take dirty things to his mouth and tell him the things he should not suppose to chew.
- Keep patrolling the room of your baby and remove all the things from the way that could choke him.
- Encourage your baby to sit & eat and avoid playing while eating.
- Never make your baby laugh when he is gulping liquids or solids.
- Try to avoid letting your baby eat inside a moving car.
- Clean your baby’s bedding and cot properly because they can hold small objects, dust, and germs which can make your baby seriously ill.
- Keep your baby’s toy different from his older siblings just in case to avoid infections and choking.
- Keep the floor clean with a disinfectant formula to kill the germs where your baby is going to sit & play. Pick up all objects from the floor.
- Wash your baby’s hands & legs frequently to avoid chances of getting germs inside his mouth.
- Keep first aids, rat killer, mosquito hit just away from his way to avoid severely poisonous ingestion.
Baby Putting Hands in Mouth. Is it OK?
Yes, but to some extent. If the baby does so, keep washing his hands frequently. Thumb, fist, feet, and finger sucking is their way of dealing with stimulation, calming themselves if they are hungry, and entertaining themselves.
This habit usually last till one year. In some cases even 2-4 years old babies are seen swallowing their hands.
Baby Not Putting Stuff in Mouth. What To Do?
As per the pediatricians, Mouthing should be actively present in every baby in order to enhance his early development.
- If your baby doesn’t actively participate in mouthing, try to put fruits fiber into his teether. They will for sure like to chew things hereafter.
- Bring your baby a variety of teethers, toys, colorful things to attract him.
- Try to make your baby sit on a high chair and put only the pacifiers and teethers so that your baby only finds them and sucks them.
- Show him how to put teether in the mouth and repeat the show-time and eventually your baby is gonna imitate you. If he still doesn’t, then you try to put teethers in his mouth and help him practice how to hold it.
When to Rush to Doctor
Almost every baby goes through this phase. Mouthing habit occurs mainly during the infancy period. As you are now aware, It is normal and natural.
Some babies may have muscle weakness that makes the baby difficult to bring objects to his mouth. And, some may have muscle weakness in their mouth and that’s why it becomes hard to bite their toy. Please contact pediatrician as soon as possible in this case.
If a baby has difficulty eating liquid or solid feed, you must rush to the doctor. Ask the doctor to figure out whether the baby is having any oral disease or other mouth sensitivities.
Dear Parents, Mouthing is a normal sign of your baby’s development. You should just encourage them by giving safe toys & pacifiers and enjoy your baby’s activities sitting comfortably. As babies grow, they outgrow the habit of mouthing and just stop it by themselves.