My almost 4 year old daughter is constantly putting things in her mouth to suck/chew on. She sucks on her hair, clothing, toys and anything else she can find. She had a dummy as a baby but gave it up on her second birthday with no problems at all. Someone recently suggested that I should get her a specially designed rubber type necklace for kids that have an oral fixation to put in their mouth in place of other things but I am wondering if this will create an attachment or encourage her habit?

Posted by Renee, 29/7/13

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  • Yes a necklace is a great idea

  • I think the necklace sounds like a good idea.

  • My eldest daughter went through this phase – particularly with the play doh at kinder ( they say that is how she got hand foot and mouth. Hopefully she will grow out of it like mine did.

  • my son bites his finger (has since as long as i can remember he doesnt realise his doing it, its only one finger and has a perfect scar of his teeth) and OT suggested giving him a chew toy (they gave him a rubber thing), so maybe give your daughter something that shes allowed to chew on that she can carry with her

  • If it were me, I’d probably go with the necklace. Sounds like she’s pretty ingrained in the habit so may as well limit it to something hygienic.

  • No solutions hope you will get some good tips

  • I have been told those necklaces actually work really well

  • Wow, I think rach has pretty much answered this one! lol

  • I heard those necklaces worked!

  • Good article rach, hopefully some helpful tips.

  • Try explaining that there are germs on things that can make you sick and you only put food in your mouth.

  • Hopefully that’s helpful :D

  • Does Your Child Have An Oral Fixation?

    Why do some children continue to have an almost obsessive need to put things into their mouths often past the age where it is deemed appropriate?

    We refer to these kids as ones who have an oral fixation. All babies go through an actual oral stage in development which is quite appropriate – they suck on, bite, chew on and sometimes even swallow things like toys, clothing, paper, pretty much anything they find that they can get into their mouths. For babies, sucking invokes pleasure and can calm a hungry baby or comfort a teething baby. Mouthing and chewing for babies is also a way for them to explore their environment. However, there are some children who continue to engage in these oral type behaviors long after infancy.

    These children seem to have a need or intense craving to put things into their mouths. They may bite their nails, chew their skin on their hands, suck their fingers or thumb, bite their clothing, chew on crayons, or suck on or chew toys and other non-food items. They may also be children who have poor oral motor skills, may drool excessively, may have poor eating skills (under weight or over weight) and poor oral hygiene habits. They may also be more socially immature and needy, and have more difficulty with separation from their parents.

    If this sounds like your child, it is advised that you seek an evaluation from an occupational therapist or speech therapist who can assess the reasons behind the need for this oral behavior. Some children have an oral fixation due to being weaned too early or too late in the infant oral stage (with bottle, breast or pacifier). Other children may be under sensitive (hyposensitive) in their mouths and have a need or craving for more oral stimulation that they get by sucking or chewing on non-food items. These children when eating may prefer intense flavors like hot, salty or sour. Some children engage in these oral behaviors due to a diagnosis or developmental delay. For many children this is a sensory need and by developing a sensory plan which includes ways to appropriately satisfy their oral cravings, while teaching coping strategies and substitutions for inappropriate oral behaviors we can gradually get these kids on a successful path to reducing their oral fixations.

    Therapists may use a combination of therapy tools to help your child overcomes his or her oral fixation. Some examples can be seen below:
    Chewy Tubes
    Chewable Necklaces and Bracelets
    Vibrating Probes

  • I tell my son whos the same age that it could have dog poo or yukky floor germs on it & he quickly puts it down. I’ve been drilling into him about floors of hospital & shopping centres etc so he’s pretty cluey about how disgusting they can be so he doesn’t like the thought of that in his mouth

  • They do eventually grow out of it. There is some great rubber necklaces, bracelets online, but not sure if they are more used for bubs that are teething. The bitter nail polish people have mentioned here seems like another good idea.

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