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Why Do Babies Put Everything in Their Mouths?

Ioulieta Ntavela*, speech therapist–special educator, writes the article about why the baby put everything in their mouths.

You’ve certainly noticed that your baby wants to put everything in its mouth, like their
– feet,
– toys,
– fingers!

Anything that grabs their attention, goes directly inside the mouth. And that will increase even more when your baby starts crawling.

But you shouldn’t worry! This is incredibly common in babies, and it’s called baby-mouthing!

Why do babies put everything in their mouths?

There are various reasons why this happens. Your baby starts searching and grabbing things when they’re 3 to 5 months old. As soon as they manage to grab something, they often put it directly in their mouth.

This happens for multiple reasons, like:

1. They’re exploring their world!

While older children and adults can feel things with their hands and fingertips, a baby’s little hands are usually good at grabbing things and throwing them at the ground. As the baby’s coordination is being improved, they’ll try grabbing things with their fists, and then in their mouth. The hands and fingers haven’t developed enough to push, press down on, or hit something. Their lips and mouth, on the other hand, are full of sensory nerves that allow a baby to truly feel what things are. Thus, it’s the baby’s mouth that tells the baby if something is thin or thick, furry or smooth, warm or hot.  

2. They’re teething!

Your baby is putting things in their mouth and biting everything coming close—including you—because they feel good when they do something with their teeth! Additionally, the teeth or gums might be irritating them, and putting things in their mouth is an attempt to soothe that irritation.  

3. It makes them calm!

You may have noticed that your baby’s sucking on their whole hand. Sucking on or biting something helps a baby soothe themselves. Babies, just like adults, might perform soothing actions when things aren’t completely alright. They might be feeling hungry, in need of attention, or sleepy.  

4. They’re building their immune system!

While your baby is exploring the world, their immune system is also learning what is out there and how it can be protected. The baby’s mouth is introducing new gems to its organism. I do understand that it looks very bad when your baby’s putting a dirty toy in their mouth that they discovered under the couch, but that’s not necessarily bad. It helps the baby’s immune system recognize bacteria, viruses, and other germs that might invade, helping them prepare their defence against these invaders. That’s why it’s usually alright if your baby ignores the rule don’t eat anything off the ground!

What must you watch out for?


Ensure your baby isn’t grabbing things that might choke them. This includes small and hard toys or items, and large and hard pieces of food that might break and get stuck.

Things you must look out for and avoid:

  • grapes,
  • pieces of hard meat, cheese, or fruits,
  • raw, hard vegetables,
  • dry pet food,
  • popcorn,
  • nuts,
  • hard candy,
  • of course, all small toys or items around the house must remain stored away.

Sand and dust might also stick to your baby’s nose and mouth and cause difficulty in breathing or swallowing.

Food poisoning

Be careful of pet food. Keep it in storage locations high up, where babies can’t reach it.  

Toxic or poisonous items

All households have many things they use every day that are harmful to a baby’s mouth, or to anyone who eats them. Certain chemicals may also cause irritation or burns on the baby’s sensitive skin or mouth.

Safety advise for the baby’s mouth

Since there are benefits for the baby’s mouth, it makes sense to help it train with safety. Keep your baby busy with things they can safely put in their mouths, like pacifiers and teething toys, which are made for their mouths!

You can also:

Teach your baby what is good to put in their mouth and what’s not good. For example, you can say that “dirt and dust aren’t food” or “dog food and dog toys are only for dogs.” In closing, I’d like to tell you that the baby’s mouth is part of the baby’s education and development. It helps them become stronger and more skilled. However, in certain cases, the baby’s mouth on the wrong thing might lead to dangers for the baby.

That’s why it needs attention, and of course, constant vigilance!

* Follow @ioulietantavela_slp_ideas for useful information about our children.

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