The other day, some moms and I were talking about what we let our children eat. Now, I’m not talking about pancakes, broccoli, and sushi here – although all of those sound good to me. No, I’m talking about slugs, leaves, and other non-edible objects.
One of the parents made the point that with her first, she was super careful. She monitored her child’s every move to ensure that he did not put any non-food items into his mouth. Well, except for the usual toys. Certainly no dirt, for example. With the second she was a lot more lax, since she was already busy watching the first.
I must be a fairly lax – call it “re-laxed” parent already, since I recall letting my daughter put a lot of somewhat icky things into her mouth. Mouthing objects is a trait common to all babies. It’s a way of exploring their world with all the senses, including taste. And I’m sure that chewing all of these oddball items really helps with teething pain. Or not, as the case may be.
My daughter and I went to a beach when she was about 8 months old. We stayed there on vacation for a few days. She loved crawling into the tidal pools to explore the water, the little fish, and the seaweed. When she picked up a big hunk of seaweed and moved it towards her mouth, I didn’t stop her. After all, she’d been debating this all day, moving seaweed to and from her mouth but stopping once she took a look at the dripping, slimy mass. No, when she put the seaweed into her mouth, I gave a little internal cheer for her daring, and she gave a big “blech” face and put the seaweed down. Oddly enough, to this day she enjoys eating kelp and sushi. Maybe it was the early exposure.
Obviously, parents need to watch for choking hazards. However, some of us have wider boundaries than others when it comes to having our babies explore the world with their mouths wide open. What would you let your baby put in her mouth?