Setting Limits With A Child To Not Put Things In Her Mouth

Note: The limits expressed in this blog post represent the feelings of the author and may be different from the limits in your family. Whatever the limit may need to be, how it is set, and how you handle the way your child feels about that limit are the important thing to focus on. You can also read this anecdote in Arabic.

Usually babies want to explore everything by putting things in their mouth.

When a 10-month-old girl started to put things in her mouth, I started gently by providing eye contact and telling her “No sweetie, take it out of your mouth.” She held it and kept thinking about it, so I kept repeating it and she kept thinking about it, and then after few minutes she took it out of her mouth.

This scenario repeated five or six times.  Sometimes she responded gently but sometimes she still insisted to put it in her mouth.

Once when she was trying to put a ball in her mouth and I was about to ask her to take it out of her mouth, she was already getting it out until she saw me looking at her and about to tell her “No”. She knew what I was going to tell her, I could see it in her eyes, so she held the ball again and put it in her mouth.

This is the “stop me” signal.  She knows not to put things in her mouth but once she saw me about to stop her, she put it back in her mouth. This was her way to attract my attention. She was telling me, “Look, I will put in my mouth. Come and stop me. Come and pay attention to me.”

I gently told her, “No sweetie, take it out of your mouth.” I kept repeating and then she was a bit nervous trying to through the ball on the floor.  I just stayed calm, held her and told her, “No sweetie, we don’t throw the ball like this.” She was nervous and making sounds like she was angry. I just told her, “I will sit with you my sweetheart.” While saying this I was going down on my knees to give her eye contact.

I just listened with full attention, with love and care and most importantly with patience to her anger.

A few minutes later she was back on track again. She was happy and cheerful like before, she took another toy to play with and she didn’t put the ball or the new toy in her mouth.

I want to mention that she rarely put things in her mouth. I am never worried to leave anything with her to put it in her mouth.

I feel very happy to use setting limits, happy to see the stop me signal and to listen to her anger, and proud that I am supporting this 10-month-old girl to think and to understand about what she puts in her mouth.

~ Dalia Abu Alam, a Certified Instructor in Cairo, Egypt

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