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The oral phase: why babies put everything in their mouths

Discovering the world with mouth-hand-eye coordination – In the first weeks of your baby’s life, you’ll notice that the coordination of eyes, hands, and fingers is still a bit of a challenge. With increasing age changes.

Using lips and tongue masterfully

The movement of the lips and tongue is one of the bodily experiences that a baby can control and direct himself at an early age. In addition, there is no other place in the body where so many nerve endings come together in one square millimeter as in the mouth area. Feeling and tasting with the mouth is thus perceived much more intensively than with the fingers. This is why even babies who have already learned to grasp well prefer to get to know different objects with their mouths. A preference that is not always harmless.

Always make sure that your baby does not grab and put things in his or her mouth that are not poisonous

  • are so small that they can be swallowed,
  • have sharp edges or
  • are made of materials that must not be put in the mouth.

Be sure to explain these dangers to older siblings, who should not, for example, hand their tiny toy surprise from their cereal box to the baby unattended. Basically, all toys that are so small that they fit in a baby’s mouth are dangerous.

The so-called oral phase

Surely you have heard the term "oral phase" before encounters. This is a term from depth psychology. Coined by the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, the oral phase refers to the stage of a baby’s development in which it experiences its environment predominantly with its mouth and also derives its satisfaction and joy from this.

For example, newborns often use their clenched hands to position their mothers’ breasts for breastfeeding and thus get their fill more quickly. In the first six months, the child’s own fingers and tangible objects are also increasingly brought to the mouth to explore them in more detail. After that, the hands come into play with increasing grasping and finger dexterity.

The urge to examine everything with tongue and lips lasts with many babies until toddler age (about 2 years). For this reason, the following applies to small toys or. Toys with small parts the recommendation "Not under three years of age."

Don’t just pay attention to the toys you give your baby to play with. As soon as it slowly becomes mobile after the first six months, many other things are not immune to being examined in detail with the mouth. With the first drinking and eating experiences, the little ones also often ask themselves how and whether something tastes. With this in mind, you should check that your houseplants are non-toxic, just in case. You can protect the potting soil from curious hands and mouths with special safety covers.

Full-bodied: Food and drink

The more your baby discovers the art of grasping, the more he learns to use his hands as well as his mouth for his experiences. Around the sixth month, when it also comes more and more into contact with drinks and food, it applies this knowledge all too readily. This means that foods and drinks are also thoroughly explored with the hands. Not always to the delight of parents, as this can sometimes lead to very messy meals.

Allow it anyway, as this kind of culinary experience trains your little one’s senses. With a little practice and the appropriate baby and toddler dishes, even mealtimes become more relaxed again.

Chewing as a teething aid

Chewing on toys is not only part of a baby’s developmental urge to explore. It helps many babies when a new tooth comes in. Since teething is often associated with pain, which can be reduced with a little cooling, so-called teething rings can quickly provide relief.

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