My toddler will eat anything that is not nailed down! Wherever we go, I must constantly scan the ground looking for small particles of paper or plastic. He can't get enough inedible items to eat. There are times that he chews on the window sills and eats the paint. It is a new house and the paint contains no lead, so no worries there. But it just doesn't seem normal to me. Do all toddlers put things in their mouths as much as my toddler does? -- TruthSeeker.
My toddler likes to put all sorts of things in his mouth, too! I have to have my eyes on him constantly on walks or in the store, because before you know it ... poof! something will be in his hand en route to his mouth. I have heard the frustrations about this very issue from many a weary mother in countless postings in countless forums.
A parenting magazine article recently suggested that allowing babies and toddlers to stick safe objects in their mouths actually helps them with brain development. Makes sense -- I mean, how would you really know dirt tastes like dirt or that slimy feels like slimy until you've tried it right? I still don't like overly ripe melon for this very reason, yuck!
But in doing some research, it seems to me this isn't only about tasting, it's about chewing, too.
There are many reasons why toddlers need to chew. Some kids just need to experience various textures before they can move past this stage. But it's also possible the tendency is stress based. That doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong, mind you. It may mean that you have a toddler more prone to everyday stresses. The way that your toddler might cope with that is via chewing.
Since my toddler seems to chew only when teething, I can only assume that yours goes beyond the obvious need to teethe. For those mothers who are still coping with teething though, to help your little one, give them something cool or cold to chew on like a washcloth that has been frozen. It can work wonders!
For those who are worried that the chewing is something different, there are toys designed specifically for this purpose called Chewy Tubes. They consist of multiple textures and sizes so that your child can experience all the pertinent oral senses. For those who can't spend money on that type of gadget, try giving your child a tooth brushor even a straw. You can also try different textures of food, such as something gummy or jerky like.
If the chronic eating and chewing is truly worrying you, there is nothing that replaces Mommy Intuition, so talk to your pediatrician. You may find out that this phase has a while to go, but at least they'll be some peace in knowing. Otherwise, your doc could refer your child to an occupational therapist or a speech pathologist for further review and advice.
If you have a question you would like to submit, please feel free to post it below or send it directly to me at MrsManners. Until next week!
Angela W. Pitre, aka MrsManners
Past Ask Mrs Manners columns: