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Why Do Babies Put Everything In Their Mouth?

Permalink 07/06/10 07:14, by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Health, Child Development , Tags: babies, chewing, teething

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Every baby seem to go through that stage, where they pick up objects, off the floor, and put them straight toward their mouth; why on earth do they do this?!  The answer is simple - it's all about exploring objects and textures!  There are more nerve endings in a baby's mouth per square millimetre than any other part of their body.  If they want to learn about or explore a new object, putting it into their mouth is an effective way to learn about it.

Whether they want to taste it, feel it or smell it, without much exception the item will end up in their mouth. This is perfectly natural and there it no real need to worry if you are sure that you home is relatively clean and that your baby has access only to things that are age appropriate.

How do I stop a baby putting things in their mouth?

The simple answer is keep things out of reach! A baby should only be able to get at things that are designed for an appropriately aged baby and nothing more! If you don't want dribbly keys, don't give the baby your car keys. If you don't want your mobile phone to be sucked, then don't give it to a baby!  Certainly don't let them have access to anything small enough to be swallowed.

When will they stop putting things in their mouth? Babies up to the age of two may still put things in their mouth. This is because they want to learn about the world around them. By two they can use their hands much better to for exploring and experimenting, so putting things in their mouth should become less frequent. By the age of 3 it shouldn't be an issue any longer.

Why does it happen?

  • Teething - As well as a means to explore, babies also will put things in their mouth when they are teething. When a tooth is about to break through chewing or sucking on something can be helpful.
  • Evolution - Putting things in the mouth and gnawing also has an evolutionary explanation.  By practicing chewing, babies are using and strengthening their jaws ready for when they can eat.  They are building up muscles and practicing the eating motion.
  • Speaking - Chewing on things is also a way for babies to prepare for speaking.  The chewing manipulates their tongues and gets their mouths and jaws into practice for when they start using their mouths and tongues for making noises and eventually talking.
  • Sensory organ - The mouth is a sensory organ so it's the most effective place for babies to put something new that needs exploring.  Until 8 months, it's the primary sensory organ for babies.

Just don't worry too much about it.  It's something all babies do in varying quantities.



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