Help! My Child Puts Everything in His Mouth!

March 10, 2022

Although frustrating at times, oral sensory seeking behavior is a normal part of development in young children and has many benefits. Infants and children are constantly gathering information about the world by using all five of their senses and using their mouth to do this is no exception. A baby’s mouth has more nerve endings than any other part of their body so if they really want to gather information on an object, they will use their mouth! Check out these facts about the developmentally appropriate behavior of “mouthing” objects:

  • Oral Sensory Seeking is part of normal development and is an important survival reflex. From the day they are born, the sucking reflex (usually) comes naturally.
  • Children may put things in their mouth all the way up to 24 months (and sometimes even up to age three!). Sucking and mouthing objects helps a child’s sensory motor development. They can learn more about an object like how big it is, it’s texture and even its shape. This is especially helpful when they are still learning to perfect their fine motor skills and coordination.
  • Babies use sucking as a way to calm themselves. Sucking is an important way that babies learn to self soothe and self-regulate when needed. 
  • Infants and toddlers use their mouths to explore their world. For children, the mouth acts as a second pair of eyes. This gives the brain extra information about objects around them.

As your little one gets older, the constant putting things in their mouth can get tiresome. When trying to limit them putting unwanted things in their mouth, focus on using positive language that will ultimately empower your child to make appropriate choices on their own and ultimately boost their self-confidence.

When necessary, limit what they have access to, be specific and clear about what they CAN do, this makes it easier for children to understand the expectations, helps them learn and encourages future cooperation.

Whenever possible provide the opportunity for your child to use their mouth to explore their world using safe and appropriate objects and toys made safely and specifically for infants and toddlers. However, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to stay vigilant about what they have access to. Be aware of items that are too small and could cause choking as well as things that are potentially poisonous or hazardous. 



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