Battling the baby’s Mouthing phase in a more Scientific way!May 23, 2019
The formative years of a baby are so exciting that she wants to explore everything in this new world. Those tiny feet and hands are her first means to investigate about the things around her. But in her early years, while she is still trying to control her movements (sitting up on bottoms, crawling, reaching up to stuff, grabbing), she totally relies on her mouth to test upon things and explore them.
Generally known as ‘mouthing’, a baby starts putting things in her mouth as early as 7-9 months. That’s when she actually starts bonding with the stuff around her. Her motor skills are still evolving from the early stages. She will be able to grip hold objects but cannot understand its shape and texture just by touching it.
I am an explorer, Mommy!
The fastest developing sensory area at that stage will be her mouth that will have more nerve endings per square millimetre than any other part in her body. She will have the urge to put everything into her mouth and check how it feels to her (What’s the taste? Is it soft or hard? What’s the texture? Does that make noise?) – Self exploration and experiential learning.
Look at my new toothy grin
‘Teething’ can be another reason. A baby’s milk teeth start appearing approximately at the same time as 7-10 months. It could be painful when the teeth pierce through the gums, usually in pairs. Biting stuff could soothe the pain temporarily. Baby starts putting her fists into her mouth, which sometimes is accompanied with drooling, irritation, diarrhoea, runny nose and sleeplessness.
I am growing
Weaning breast milk is a big transitional period for babies, both physically and psychologically. For some parents it’s an easy process if it’s a baby-led weaning. Others may have to take help and guidance from doctors and other forums. Longing for the mother’s milk and less interest in outside food leads to insufficient nutrition, forcing to shove other things into her mouth.
Dangers of putting things into mouth
Small items are more than enough to fit into your baby’s mouth. Once the baby starts moving around, try to be vigilant about the things that are in her reachable distance. An easy to remember rule would be anything that passes through a paper towel roll will definitely fit into your little one’s mouth. Try to sit down on the floor and check for such small things – coins, marbles, small toy parts, nuts/seeds, berries etc.
Every nibble and bite is an important information about this environment to your little one. But as parents, we get so worried about germs that get into our baby’s way. Research says that not all germs are bad for your baby because they help build her immunity in these formative years. But do watch out for any damp things, pet food, things that touched human/animal saliva, cigarettes and trash bins – they may make her sick.
Take it easy on me, Mamma!
While we take every precaution to keep our baby safe, it is always good to know some handy tips.
- If your baby chokes, place her face down. Tap on the back with your palm to start a cough. Tap for five times to dislodge the object stuck in her airway.
- Have a separate teether for your baby. Clean it every time and keep it chill so that it eases the pain on her gums when she bites it.
- Clean your carpet regularly to keep the dust and germs away. But, don’t be a germaphobe either – remember some germs are good for your baby’s immunity to develop.
- Take help from a paediatrician or trained child support personnel to have a smooth transition during weaning periods.
- Babies do understand when you say ‘NO’. Reinforce it every time she stuffs up things into her mouth.
Take it easy on your bundle of joy. She does want to wear her detective hat at times to investigate her own little world. Small changes and necessary precautions will definitely help transition this phase with little discoveries and a lot of memories.