Non-disabled/delayed children putting wierd stuff in mouths?

United States
March 21, 2007 7:05pm CST
I'm just curious.. I know that young children go through an "oral" stage, where they put things in their mouths. This could be small toys, money, rocks, dirt, etc.. And from what I can tell, in a child who has some kind of developmental delay, they might be stuck in that stage a bit longer(?). I do wonder, though. Are there kids out there who seem to be developing normally, who are still putting things in their mouths at age 3 1/2 to 4 yrs of age? My son was diagnosed with Autism, so I would assume this is the reason why he does what he does. But the other morning, he opened up a container of (clean) cat litter, and stuck some in his mouth. Then this afternoon, he put dirt in his mouth. Every now and then, I know he puts some of his sister's smaller toys in there, too. I don't know if this is part of some sensory input to help him "understand" what the object is, or what.. but it's a stage I really wish he'd grow out of. He doesn't do it a lot, but now and then, it pops up. What are typical (non-delayed) children doing? Any who were stuck in the oral stage through the age of 3, and even 4?
4 people like this
11 responses
@rainbow (6763)
22 Mar 07
I think it's probably ok and just a part of learning, they seem to go through phases. Roo (3 last December) has started putting coins, small toys, my fabric scented rose petals from the bathtoom etc in his mouth the last few weeks. I nearly had heart failure the night before last, after bath and bed he came through for a snuggle and fell asleep. When I took him back I desturbed him and noticed he was chewing - a blue rose petal from bathtime, I was so scared, he could have choked on it and I would have had no idea. I had a job getting it back too, as he was half asleep and I was panicking a bit. Bong (7) as you know does have special needs, he's licking things at the moment, the urinal at school, the shower tiles, york stone fireplace, my laptop. He's chewing his clothes again too, I'm ignoring the clothes as if he is wet and uncomfortable he will take them off and I hope he'll realise why, lol.
2 people like this
@kaevielf (246)
• China
22 Mar 07
I feel so guilty for laughing at that!
@rainbow (6763)
22 Mar 07
Kaevief, I can see the funny side of both of my boys antics but which bit are you laughing at?
• United States
23 Mar 07
I don't know which part of your post is the most scary.. I don't know what I would do if I found out my child was licking the urinal at school. :( Poor kiddo! And OMG- I would freak out too about the rose petal.
@sedel1027 (17854)
• United States
22 Mar 07
I am not sure kids ever really grow out of that stage. They may not do it as often, but they still do it. My 8 year old will occasionally put something in his mouth that I deem odd. Heck, my husband who is 24 put things in his mouth to chew on that he knows better than to do (at that point is it just an oral fixation?)
2 people like this
• United States
22 Mar 07
I suppose it is.. I mean, I still put pens and pencils in my mouth and chew on them. LOL
1 person likes this
@kurtbiewald (2628)
• United States
22 Mar 07
not sure exactly how those stages are supposed to work I do know that it IS healthy for very small kids to put things in thier mouths so thier immune systems develop properly also, if you know of some cute otherwise women in the New England area, who might be around 40 and stuck in that oral stage, I think I would like to meet them
• United States
22 Mar 07
lol!
• United States
22 Mar 07
I thought I would pop in and answer this for you to the best of my ability. I think your son is doing that for the sensory issue. Perhaps if you give him some more sensory stuff in that area he might not do it. If you have a speech therapist she could offer some suggestions.
@blueskies (1186)
• United States
22 Mar 07
Has your son been tested for anemia lately? Craving non-food items (such as dirt and cat litter) can be Pica. I have pica because I have iron-deficiency anemia. Anemia is fairly common in children and can usually be taken care of with an iron supplement. Please take your son to the doctor to rule this out. It's a very simple blood test. He can make himself sick by eating dirt and other such substances.
1 person likes this
• United States
22 Mar 07
He had a bunch of tests done lately, and I believe his iron was checked. Almost everything seems normal. You reminded me of my sister when she was little. She used to eat some really bizarre things- I want to say she bit the heads of matches, etc..
@re08dz (1941)
• Australia
22 Mar 07
As you said they do it to help them understand what it is etc. I don't know though at what age they grow out of it - I vividly remember one of my daughters putting a LIVE spider in her mouth it was the grossist thing ever, but I can't remember at what age my kids grew out of it. Whether it's just when they reach that age where they have more understanding of what just tastes foul and gross or whether it's when their other sensors like touch and smell etc really kick by that I mean they can make more sense out of what those signals (touch etc) are telling their brain without having to taste things as well- does that make sense? sorry can't really help you much more than that
• United States
22 Mar 07
LOL My daughter was about 1 1/2 when she put a huge black ant (carpenter ant) in her mouth. It was so gross! I think I'd really freak if she put a spider in there. My son might try it.. he has no fear about stuff like that. LOL Thanks for your post! :)
• United States
22 Mar 07
I think that stage usually ends before age 2. I have a close friend with an autistic child and he is constantly putting things in his mouth and it must be a sensory thing.
1 person likes this
• United States
22 Mar 07
Thanks for the post. Every now and then, my son will find new ways of exploring things.. rubbing them on his body, putting them in his mouth, etc.. It's interesting to watch.
• United States
22 Mar 07
I have worked in a group home for children with special needs and there were many children who would put things into their mouths for sensory input. This may have been to "understand" the object or to enjoy the feel of the various textures. We worked with it by having foods of varying textures around such as granola, raisins, etc. My three year old has never really put anything in his mouth, even when he was younger. My one year old, on the other hand puts many things in his mouth and enjoys any reaction I give him when I try to get him to spit it out!
@blueyes (56)
• Canada
22 Mar 07
Hi well my 6yr when he was 3 he was sticking things in his nose and ears. So there is alot of stages they go through. My oldest is a special needs child(conogitive). He use to loves beaded necklaces. It was just to see them swirl around on the floor, the feel and i persume the color as well. Then he went to tree branches, just little ones, but the branches had to twang or vibrate at the end or the stick was no good. The he went to pail handles, that was a kick for a few yrs. Now this is something i can live with, Its straws. he flings them up and down and tell stories. His stories is what he did through out the day. This stories are done in privacy. It helps him relax at night. Its like rewhinning a tape. After when he is done. he crawls into bed and goes to sleep just like that. He is now 16. so we had a full life of experences.
• United States
23 Mar 07
I'm reading a book called "Overcoming Autism", and there's a story in there about a boy who used his hands as puppets, and had them talk to each other, I guess to talk about what he did during the day, etc. He did this for years, for the same reason.. to help relax him.
@deebomb (15322)
• United States
6 Jun 07
Are you telling me that the kids are supposed to grow out ogf putting things in their mouth and chewing on them? I have an 18 year old living here with me. My grandson. I thought he was ok until you tell me he is supposed to get past putting thing in his mouth. He is always chewing the rings fronm the soda bottles. He chews them until you wouldn't reconize them. I'm goung to have to go to work on getting him to stop chewing thing.
@AmbiePam (49877)
• United States
22 Mar 07
Oh, I've seen 'normal' children, those with no physical problems, put items in their mouth up to six years old! Mostly boys. I've had to fish out a worm from a five year old, and several boogers from a six year old.