I recently read an article which introduced me to Mummy's Bubble blog! Their products inspired me to write about Oral Sensory Processing. I was honoured when they agreed to post it on their blog!
Oral Sensory Processing is really interesting..it's about so much more than babies just putting stuff in their mouth to explore! When babies are born, we know that they are born with sucking reflexes. Their sensory receptors are more highly developed in the mouth than anywhere else on the body.
When they reach 6 months, they can typically sit unaided and are more skilled at utilising their lips, tongue and jaw to explore an object's texture, weight, size and shape. This really helps them to develop their mouthing skills for eating solid foods, which happens around this time. It's really important that during this stage where they are looking to grab objects, that safe toys and objects are bought and that choking is not a risk.
Then there comes language development, as the child continues to explore what the different parts of their mouths are capable of. A babbling baby is just the cutest thing!
A Healthy Oral Sensory Processing system will likely result in children who are willing to try new textures of foods (within reason!), like putting milk on a crunchy cereal, and will not have issues with brushing their teeth. Some children, however do need more help - they may have a hyper sensitivity and might be perceived as a 'picky' eater or be reluctant to put things in their mouths such as toothbrushes or cutlery, avoiding certain experiences. Others may require more as they are less sensitive (hypo sensitive); and seek out experiences such as chewing, or may even bite themselves or other people!
These symptoms are very different to children who display preferences.
My son - for example - who is 4, LOVES crunchy food! I know if I give him a crusty pie he will only eat the crusty top! He will also eat cucumbers, peppers and breadsticks!
There are two stages of mouth toys that support babies in their development. Sensory Awareness which is a simple, smooth textured toy - similar to that of their own skin. Like the Mummy's Bubble silicon beads below.
Then there are sensory discrimination toys which offer more complex textures and develop the babies further. Such as the Mummy's Bubble crochet beads below.
Children do learn to be comfortable with cutlery, cups, and textures of foods when they have had experience with the same sensations in toys
Typically around the time a child has been potty trained, and they have a much greater degree of control over their body as a whole - they move away from this 'oral gratification' (pleasure from mouthing objects). But until then it's best to ensure that your home is choke-proofed.
I had a real problem with crayons in my house. Not only were the ends bitten off but I'd be stepping on them all the time and - crack- there goes another crayon!
Also they are usually made from paraffin and not something I'd like my child to eat! So I came up with food grade crayons. That's not to say that they are edible - they are not a food source - but are much better and safer. They are extra large so can't be swallowed and best of all if I tread on them - they don't snap into pieces!!
I sell a box of 6 on my website for £9.70 and a cute tote bag to keep them in for £2. Here is a pic of them looking cute in their box and out. You can find them on www.tiny-land.co.uk.
I hope this article has been interesting to you. I often write about children's development as it's the inspiration for my products - safe and natural for children. I also have scented crayons and paints to add another sensory dimension! If you have enjoyed this article - keep in touch! You can subscribe to my blog and get 50% off. I am also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tinylandplaystuffs
Best wishes all,