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Food for thought: Why do babies put everything in their mouths?

December 3, 2020
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You must have noticed that when babies reach around six or seven months, they tend to put everything within their reach into their mouths. Now, while this can seem worrying to new parents, we would like to tell you that you can relax because it’s a completely normal thing to do!

This process of putting everything in their mouths is called mouthing and it is a sign that the baby is growing normally, and is exhibiting the normal signs of curiosity and interest in his/her surroundings that babies at their age do. Babies putting everything in their mouth is simply a sign that they are taking an interest in exploring their surroundings by feeling the shapes and textures of different objects. It is also an early sign of teething in babies.

Now, as concerned parents, you would want to know everything you can about ‘mouthing’ in babies, and be fully prepared for what is happening. Well, if that is the case, we’ve got you covered! In this blog, we will answer any questions you may have about this process, and the precautions you can take to avoid any harm that may come to your baby’s way.

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Why do babies put everything in their mouths?

Now, one of the first steps to prepare yourself for your baby’s mouthing period is to know why they do so.

It takes a while before babies develop all their senses fully. Among the first senses to develop are the senses of touch and taste. Babies use these senses to explore their surroundings. They do so by clutching at everything within their reach and subsequently putting it in their mouths. By doing so, they can understand the shape and texture of the object in question. This shows that the baby is showing an interest in their surroundings, which is a positive sign for the normal development of the child.

  • Teething:

Around the same time that babies engage in mouthing when they are about six or seven months old, it is the same time that they experience teething. Teething is when the first tooth pops out in a baby. This experience causes a baby to be more driven to putting everything in his/her mouth.

  • Oral muscles strength:

The process of mouthing helps babies develop and strengthen their oral muscles. It helps them coordinate the movement of their cheeks, tongue, and jaws.

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Potential risks of mouthing

Although mouthing is a natural process, we completely understand why parents get worried when they see their child doing so. As parents, we always fear the worst outcome of anything that our little one does.

  • Choking:

This is one of the most common fears that parents have when it comes to mouthing. Babies do not understand what they are putting in their mouths, so if they put in something that is too small in size, it can lead to choking.

  • Infections:

Babies during this stage put their mouths on any available surface. This can sometimes include the floor and other surfaces too. That is why parents fear the chance of a possible infection when they see this process of mouthing.

  • Sharp objects:

Babies do not carefully understand what they are putting in their mouths. So, there is always a possibility that they might put some sharp objects in their mouth, which may lead to injures.

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Precautions to take during this phase

While it involves some risks, it is also not advisable for parents to discourage their child from mouthing. So how can parents protect their little one from harm without hindering their process of development?

The solution is simple: you must take all the necessary precautions.

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Babyproofing the house:

This is one of the most integral things that you must do when your baby starts mouthing. Make sure you put away everything that a baby can put in his/her mouth that can be harmful.

  1. Get down on your baby’s level and look for things that your baby might put in their mouth.
  2. To understand which objects are small enough to choke a baby, the most foolproof method is to see if the object passes through a toilet paper roll. If it does, it is too small and needs to be removed.
  3. Cover all sharp edges and corners that might hurt your baby and cause possible injury.
  4. Keep all surfaces clean at all times to avoid any form of infection.

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Positive reinforcement:

This method works wonders with babies. To discourage your baby from putting harmful objects in their mouth, the easiest way is to reward them for correct behaviour.

Use the word “no”:

Do not shy away from using the word “no” with your child every once in a while. If you say the word no to a child when they do something that might be harmful, they usually respond in an expected manner and refrain from doing the activity.

While you must not discourage your baby from mouthing, there is no harm in being well prepared to deal with the process when the time comes. Enjoy your parenthood and stay safe!

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