Children chew various objects during their development stage. Young babies and toddlers have various chewing habits. They chew candies, toys, and many other objects to explore the world through taste. It happens between the ages of 18-24 months. While teething, toddlers chew on various items. You can identify they are teething by looking at the molars coming in. This stage is hard for the kids and parents. Children start eating anything and everything to satisfy the sensation in their jaws. It becomes hard for them to control and stop chewing stuff. All they do is take toys and everything available in the house in their mouth and chew them. It is risky because it leads to stomachache and unhealthy habits.
At the stage of teething, give them appropriate things to chew. You can even add crispy and crunchy food to their diet, which will help them with teething issues. It is a part of child development when a child develops oral motor skills. All children go through this part of the oral mouthing stage, so they become able to explore tastes and textures. They often chew their hands and put every object they have in their mouth. It is also dangerous when kids play with each other. A child at this stage may bite other children rather than toys or food. Some tools are available in the market for kids to chew at this stage. Sensory chew toys help a lot. Parents attach such toys to their necks with a thread, so they always have that toy with them.
When Does Chewing Become A Sensory Oral Fixation?
Chewing becomes a noticeable issue, usually when a child starts to attend preschool, daycare, or kindergarten. Any time after 24 months, people start observing the oral fixations in a child. Teachers can notice it easily if a child keeps chewing items like erasers or pencils. Parents can notice even better since children spend more time at home than at school. They try to put every object in their mouth, from toys to furniture. Parents should keep their children’s hands and the surrounding area very clean to ensure their chewing does not harm their health.
In extreme cases, a child may chew their fingers or arms, leaving marks and red spots. They may bite other children too, which means it is a bit dangerous stage. When you notice your child licking and chewing on objects, it indicates oral fixation. Children tend to emphasize oral sensory input, which justifies this prolonged licking and chewing. This stage is disturbing for the child too. Even if he does not want to chew, the sensation in his jaws will force him to chew. It is a bit annoying. However, a child can chew the right things to reduce irritation and itching.
Parents should see if the licking and chewing are normal or extreme. If it’s extreme, one should visit a pediatrician or a therapist with having specialization in sensory processing. It’s a part of child development, but it must be checked if it irritates the child beyond the extreme. Otherwise, please give them the right things to chew and take care of their hygiene. If the child is chewing the right and clean things, there is no harm in chewing. This is the responsibility of parents and teachers to ensure that there is nothing unhygienic that the child is chewing.
What Can I Do As A Parent/Teacher When I Notice A Child Chewing?
A parent or a teacher cannot restrict a child from chewing. The best they can do is ensure they do not chew any dirty things. Hygiene issues can occur during this stage. Therefore, parents have to be careful about it. Giving them crunchy items to eat or straws to have smoothies or milkshakes may help. For older kids, chewing gum can also help, specifically in a stressful situations. You will have to decide what to give them to chew so it is safe for their health and their jaws are also satisfied.
If you feel like there is a sensory processing issue with your child, you should consult your child’s pediatrician. As a teacher, you should communicate the issue to parents and suggest to them that they should consult a doctor. Teachers can get the idea if there is a sensory processing issue with a child’s behavior. They should communicate with the parents, especially if they feel the issue is extreme.
As a parent or teacher, you can work to help your child’s chewing habits by making sure that he has something hygienic to chew. The chewing habit can even lead to stomach upsets if hygiene is ignored. A child has no idea what to put in their mouth and what not, which surface is clean and which is not. The parent at home and teacher at school ensures that only clean items are handed to the kids.
Oral mouthing is a stage that a child goes through after 24 months. It is a process that allows them to interact with their environment and get a sense of taste and texture. At this stage, they can’t help but take everything in front of them and put it in their mouth. They chew stuff due to teething, but parents and teachers have to make sure they do not chew any unhygienic or dirty stuff. Chewing at the age of 24 months is definitely an oral sensory fixation. It is a totally normal process every child goes through.
Parents and teachers can’t restrict them from chewing because it is natural. All they can do is make sure it’s hygienic. If the chewing becomes extreme, they should take the child to a pediatrician and see if there is anything wrong. You cannot avoid this stage, but you have to make sure that this stage does not lead to unhealthy habits. If you notice stomach upsets at this stage, take extra care of what your child is chewing.