You might have experienced or have heard from many parents, few of them worried, that once the baby reaches six months of age, everything the baby holds or grasps goes straight to the mouth. Well, this is not an uncommon situation and your little one is turning an explorer and trying to feel objects by putting it in their mouths. Since the activity is very normal, let us try to understand first why a baby puts things in his mouth and few steps parents can take up to stop the baby from putting EVERYTHING in his mouth.
Why do babies put everything in their mouth?
You might have noticed babies trying to put their fingers and fists into their mouth. At about six to seven months of age, the baby’s hands function more than their fingers. This means, the baby can hold and grab objects and bring them closer to him but cannot use his fingers yet to explore the object. The lips and the tongue, on the other hand, are the most sensitive parts of a baby and therefore to quench their curiosity, they start outing the objects they can grip into their mouth to feel the shape, taste and texture. Mouthing lets your baby take a step into exploring the things around them. This could however prove dangerous in many situations than one.
The Dangers You Need to Be Careful About
Small parts of toys or anything tiny lying about around the baby during this phase pose a threat of choking. The toys designed for babies of 0 to 2.5 years do not come with any small parts which can otherwise choke the baby if put in the mouth. However, if the surroundings of the baby is left unsupervised, and small object which can fit the baby’s mouth can cause choking.
We try to make the house baby safe. But on instances where you might accidentally leave your make up or medicines within the reach of the baby, mouthing such objects can cause poisoning. Make sure you keep the surrounding of the baby toxic free and devoid of anything that could cause harm to the baby, even accidentally.
The habit of mouthing persists till the baby learns to use his fingers to ‘feel’ objects and this phase can last up to 2 years or more. During the time, if the baby happens to be in a group play and sucks on to something which another baby has, the act can lead to infections.
Babies put things in their mouth out of curiosity. So do not scold your baby for putting things in her mouth. Rather, take safety measures to remove anything toxic or hazardous from around the baby. Scolding will discourage the learning spirit in the baby.
Make it a point to train your baby to understand when you say NO to her from putting something in her mouth. Though this a behavior aspect and might take longer for each child to understand, you must supervise and let the child know about things she should not put in her mouth.
To prevent your baby from putting anything in the mouth that could prove fatal, you must ensure that you keep nothing hazardous around the baby. A cleaning of the room will not be enough and kids crawl and reach corners to pick up things which you would not otherwise have thought of. The best way to ensure that the baby’s surrounding is safe is to yourself get down to the level of the baby and look for things that the baby is likely to put in his mouth. Likewise, inform the other kids in the house to keep any tiny objects away from the baby.
Instead of supervising the baby all the time and not giving enough room to explore, give something to the baby to chew on. Buy teethers of different sizes and shapes so that you can offer your baby a new one each time he gets bored of the current teether.
Mouthing is important for a baby during the growing phase since it boosts creativity and curiosity in kids. However, as a parent, you must take adequate safety measures to prevent any accidents to happen.