Mouthing is how babies learn things and explore the world around them. Just like touching and observing, babies also learn about things in their environment by putting them in their mouth. They learn about the shape, size and texture of items using their tongue. Babies take in more information through their mouth than through their fingers. It also helps soothe those teething gums. Mouthing is also a sign of appropriate physical and cognitive development.
Benefits of mouthing
- Creates awareness of different ways the jaw, lips and tongue can move
- Sensory input: When your baby picks up different textured items to mouth, it gives a sensory input as they begin to differentiate between textures identifying them as smooth, rough, bumpy etc.
- Strengthens muscles: Mouthing objects strengthens the muscles in the mouth which is an essential part of your baby’s growth and development. These muscles are required for everyday tasks like talking, laughing and eating.
- Supports speech and language development: Putting things in the mouth, requires certain mouth formations which are similar to the shape the mouth makes when words start to come out. Thus, mouthing supports speech and language development in your baby.
- Introduces a variety of textures which helps when starting solids: One of the most received advice while starting solids is to provide your child with different textured foods. Mouthing different textured items does the groundwork and lays the foundation for when your baby is ready for their weaning journey to begin, thus, making it easier.
- Helps with facial expressions like smiling and frowning: Strengthening muscles in the mouth is also important to ensure your baby makes different facial expressions to show their emotions.
- Develops fine motor skills: In order to put an object in the mouth, your baby first needs to pick them up using the muscles in their fingers and hands. This develops their fine motor skills which is required to complete daily tasks like tying shoe laces and writing later in life.
- Promotes hand eye coordination: As your baby picks up an object, they use their hand eye coordination to carefully bring it to their mouth. While this seems like an easy thing to do, picking something off the ground and putting it in their mouth is a big achievement!
Household items your baby might enjoy mouthing
- Wire whisk
- Wet (frozen) washcloth
- Cold teethers
- Metal spoon
- Wooden spoon
If your baby is not yet mouthing objects, gently hold a teether near their mouth and encourage them to lick it by touching it to their tongue.