Are Your Child’s Fingers Always In Their Mouth? A Sensory Diet May Help!
Do you find that your child has their fingers in their mouth often? This could be a sensory issue. You can provide your child with a sensory diet by giving them clean objects for the purpose of chewing. Begin by allowing chewing on these chosen items anytime the child appears to “need” to chew. This is not a toy or a reward/punishment. You can even purchase oral sensory chew toys online specifically made for children that need to chew! It is part of a natural sensory diet to help the brain focus.
Use familiar and gentle, positive support to encourage exploration by the hands and lessen exploration by the mouth.
After a child matures beyond the oral-motor stage, the next natural developmental stage involves the sense of touch. Older children who continue to explore by mouth need to be helped to learn about their world through the sense of touch.
Provide opportunities for your child to explore their sense of touch with different textures, temperatures, and consistencies. Crafts involving cutting and pasting, especially when gluing buttons and small beads are required, can be very helpful for developing touch as well as eye-hand coordination. Even washing the hands with a gentle scrub brush becomes a portion of the sensory diet.
We can assist children in maturing beyond the natural growing stage of oral-motor learning by giving them as many opportunities for exploration by the sense of touch as possible.
Notice when your child interacts with their world through touch versus inappropriate placement of an object in their mouth. You may need to be very quick, but instantly praise with your voice, sing a quick song, or some brief celebration through your facial expression when they explore through fingers (and not mouth…). Catch them “being good”!