A baby will like to explore his own environment and learn from it. As the baby’s immune system grows and adapts during the first year, the little one will use all senses i.e. to touch, smell, see, taste and hear. With those tiny hands, the baby will first hold and then move the hand straight into the mouth. This exploration process is known as “mouthing” and is absolutely normal. This article talks about why they do this, the risks associated while doing this and what precautions need to be taken during this stage:
Why Do Babies Put Everything in Their Mouth?
In the first year, when your baby starts putting toys in the mouth, ensure that to be nearby your baby and try to prevent it. However, the mouthing process is absolutely normal and means that the baby is in the learning phase to explore see, taste, touch, hold, hear, smell and lick everything. The hands and mouth are baby’s ways of exploring and learning about various types of textures, shapes, odours, materials, tastes, sounds and much more.
Do you know when do babies begin putting things in the mouth?
Well, babies try to put their fists in the mouth. Even their feet as well. It is completely fine until they are about 7 months old. Then they are in control of their hands and use their mouths to explore. Slowly the swinging hands begin to hold the objects and then regulate them to move it into the mouth. The exploration process moves into shoving, reaching, swatting, grabbing, patting and so on. They learn what tastes good and what doesn’t and have the most exploration fun activities even crappy things that mothers would never dream of putting in baby’s mouth.
Babies also learn to suck on the thumb which is their cues of responding to stimuli like boredom, hunger and so on. Many mothers dissuade this habit and clearly so as prolonged thumb sucking can pose many negative effects.
What Are the Possible Risks of Putting things in Mouth?
Baby can choke during its journey of explorations. The not-so-easy thing to do is to ensure that your baby shouldn’t reach to hold the small objects. Get down on the floor at your baby’s eye levels and check around at what objects could be dangerous for him. The important thing to follow is to ensure that objects like getting through a toilet-paper tube are unsafe. The toys are broken into pieces, rough-edged objects, glass objects, standing buckets of water, the pet’s food bowl etc. will be explored and can cause bruises, scratches and even accidents.
Moreover, mouthing cannot be avoided. During this stage babies even lick objects on the floor. The ideal method to avoid infections is cleanliness and frequently clean your floors, toys and surfaces–your baby is in contact with. Don’t worry as infections are caused by bacteria and viruses that an ailing person has.
Since this stage has many positive results simply ensure that your infant doesn’t share toys with a sick child. Wash and clean all the toys, linen and surfaces with a mild disinfectant and motivate your baby to play in groups. They learn while having fun to touch faces, give kisses, bump their noses, and taste everything from blankets, their clothes and whatever grab their attention. Group play and supervised exploration is appropriate to a secured mouthing phase. A little bit of dust and germs that cannot be avoided won’t make the baby fall sick.
When Do Babies Stop Putting Everything in the Mouth?
Babies start mouthing objects as early as when they are 7 to 12 months old. By the time they are two years old, fingers are used for exploration. And at the age of three, many babies would stop putting the objects into their mouths. If your baby is still getting everything into his mouth and sucking his thumb at 4 years of age you must consult the doctor to develop corrective practices.
Precautions to Take During the Mouthing Phase
Whenever your baby chews anything here are some precautions for you to keep your baby safe:
1. Clear out small objects
Check and remove any mouth-sized objects from your baby’s reach. It could be a pet food bowl, loose change, marbles, small toys and anything that can easily fit into your baby’s mouth. You will also need to clear out cosmetics, chemicals and something like that can also be possibly harmful.
2. Depend on positive reinforcement
Do not shout or scream at your baby if he is about to put anything in his mouth that isn’t safe. Instead, consider replacing it with something that is safe.
3. Practice ‘no’
Make your baby learn to respond to your ‘No’ saying. Teach him to be responsive whenever you say ‘No’ so that he stops mouthing things when he is asked to do so.
There are chances that your baby put things in his mouth to chew due to teething. In order to avoid this, you can get some teething rings and give it to him. You can also freeze them to provide your infant with some form of relief from the teething pain.
To Sum up,
The mouthing phases lasts a little and can be made into a secured exploratory journey for you and your baby. Enjoy this exploratory phase and communicative journey with a not very obsessive germ-phobic aptitude and everything goes well.