What is it with kids and shoving literally anything into their slobbery mouths? It’s hard to understand why that Lego or pencil eraser looks appetizing. But somehow, if it’s small enough to gobble up, your toddler will find a way to sneak it in their gullet. This is why, more often than not, you will find yourself wondering how to stop your kid from putting things in their mouth.
In the first year of your baby’s life, he or she is exploring literally everything around them to get a feel for their new world. This includes seeing and feeling, of course, but it also includes tasting. From the time your baby starts shoving his or her feet and fingers in his or her mouth, they will begin exploring with other easily accessible objects. They learn early on, after all, that the one thing they put in their mouth from the start gives them milk or formula. Can you really blame them for seeing if everything else bodes similar results?
Thankfully, toddlers slow down on putting everything in their mouths by the time they reach four years old and even some three-year-olds start to exhibit self-control to calm your nerves as their parent. But until that glorious time comes, you might be wondering what you can do to stop your kid from putting things in his or her mouth. And as it turns out, there are a few things you can do for their safety and your sanity.
Designate Something Else For Them To Put In Their Mouth
Sometimes, kids just like to gnaw on things. Once they get started, it becomes a habit that’s difficult to break overnight. So try and find a favorite clean rag or blanket they can possible chew on instead to keep their mouth occupied while they play with toys. Or, keep a healthy snack on hand so if the situation arises where they want to put a marble or Lego in their mouth, you can swoop in with some banana slices.
Keep Their Play Area Clean From All Hazards
This might be a given, but keeping your child’s play area free of all small toys or objects they could out in their mouth can make a huge difference. This means more work on your part as a parent, but toddlers can be determined to get their way. If you keep smaller hazardous toys out of their grasp as they play, he or she will have a harder time finding something dangerous to put in their mouth.
Tell Your Child Just How Icky It Is
It might be hard to explain germs to a two-year-old, but if you make a big show of how smelly or disgusting something is that your little one put in his or her mouth, it might make them think twice. Knowing how unpredictable kids can be, it could also make them want to do it all the more, but it’s worth a shot.
Find Other Uses For Their Hands During Play
Playing quiet games on the floor might be preferred after spending all day with a busy noisy toddler, but engaging in games that require their attention and both hands can be the perfect way to help them forget about shoving things in their mouth. Whether they are prone to putting toys or even their own fingers in their mouth, your child will have a hard time absentmindedly doing that if you are playing a game or playing with a toy that requires both hands.
When In Doubt, Try Reverse Psychology
Some parents’ favorite tool to get a leg up on their kids is good old fashioned reverse psychology. If your child is putting things in his or her mouth simply for your reaction, which could be the case, you could try and act more nonchalant about it. Should they be putting their fingers in their mouth, for example, or chewing on something that isn’t likely to choke them, you could act as if you don’t notice in order to make them grow bored with the game. If they like to put more hazardous things in their mouth, however, this probably wouldn’t be the best tactic.
Use Other Toys As A Distraction
If your toddler shoves one toy or one part of a certain toy in their mouth, immediately take it away and distract them with another toy they don’t usually bite or chew on. If teething is the issue, you can usually find a safe teething object to replace with the toy or small object. But in this case, distracting with a toy could be the way to go. It might not be their favorite toy, but it could distract them enough to engage them in a new game and make them forget all about that soggy book they were chewing on a few seconds ago.
Of course the one shared tactic a lot of parents have is the repetition of “please don’t put that in your mouth” and a few fingers digging around in your toddler’s mouth to make sure he or she didn’t swipe another perfectly tiny crayon to shove in their mouth. No one loves having slobber covered fingers, regardless of how old your child is who forces you to resort to that. And when you are officially over that, these are some solid tips to stop your kids from putting things in their mouth that much last beyond a few minutes before they are at it again.