Does your baby put everything (or almost everything) she can find in her mouth? And you can’t get her to stop? Well actually, you won’t be able to and you shouldn’t! Mouthing is an essential part of your little one’s development and exploration.

Oral exploration is a key developmental stage. It allows your baby to discover the taste and texture of the different objects that surround her. So when your little one grasps an object and then brings it to her mouth, it means that she wants to explore it further. “Is it soft or hard? Can I eat it? Does it make a sound?”

Keep in mind that mouthing won’t be the only way your little will explore her world. In the first years of life babies explore their surroundings through all their senses –seeing, touching, hearing, smelling, and tasting–, and the more they are able to explore, the more they will learn.

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If your little one is around 3 and 7 months, then mouthing toys or other objects can also be a sign of teething. When this happens, you’ll notice your baby will start to drool a lot, might be a little irritable, and constantly putting things in her mouth. Biting and gum rubbing are your baby’s efforts to relieve pressure in her gums.

But what about germs?

Keep in mind that kids get sick from viruses and bacteria, not dust. So make sure your little one is not sharing toys with babies that might be sick and can pass on germs. Washing hands and toys frequently will also be key to prevent any illness. But don’t stress too much about it. Parents simply can’t protect their children from everything –germs included– and, from what doctors are learning about the way babies develop their immune systems, you probably shouldn’t worry too much about most of the things that end up in your baby’s mouth (just the ones that can be unsafe or be a chocking hazard).

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