Mouthing is a normal part of babies’ early childhood development. Anything they encounter, first goes to their mouth – from their toes to toys. It is through mouthing that they learn about their environment and satisfy their natural curiosity. This exploration also helps to build the child’s immune system. As a prepared adult, it is our role to support this developmental need of the child by
Providing safe materials
Preparing the environment
Here's how we support LO with mouthing at our home.
1. Safety is the priority
Instead of refraining the baby to mouth, we give safe items for the baby to explore
Instead of ensuring the object / environment is pristine or sterilized for the baby, we keep the item /environment clean-enough.
2. Safe toys
It comprises of items made of wood, fabric, silicone that cannot be swallowed.
3. Preparing the environment
Keep the environment clear of any unsafe items that might cause choking hazard.
Regular vacuuming and/or getting down to the child’s level to do a safety check of the room can be helpful.
Any potentially dangerous items are stored out of baby’s reach and sight – medicines, chemicals, cosmetics, loose parts, pet food, certain indoor plants too.
A handful of sand or grass from outdoor play which ends up in mouth is totally okay.
4. Respectful communication
When mouthing unsafe items, instead of saying "Don't put it in your mouth!" or "Take it out of your mouth!", we say
"It looks like you want to mouth ________. But I cannot let you do that since it's not safe.
You can mouth ________ instead." (and we hand over a safe toy).
Please note that you can communicate the above response in the language you speak at home.
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What strategies have you found helpful with your children?