Early Childhood Intervention
This website is a place for families who are facing
challenges pertaining to their child's development and
It is a place to find answers and practical
suggestions. That's what Early Intervention Support is all
Whether a family has a child with a challenging behavior,
a disability or developmental issue, childhood is short - it
should be savored and enjoyed.
Ask a Therapist
We understand developmental milestones and the challenges
of Special Needs children. We spend a great deal of time
with families understanding the inner workings of childhood
routines and interactions. Ask us about your child today!
Ask a Therapist
Behavior Tips: Oral Fixation
Does Your Child Have An Oral Fixation?
Why do some children continue to have an almost obsessive need to put
things into their mouths often past the age where it is deemed appropriate?
We refer to these kids as ones who have an oral fixation. All babies go
through an actual oral stage in development which is quite appropriate -
they suck on, bite, chew on and sometimes even swallow things like toys,
clothing, paper, pretty much anything they find that they can get into their
mouths. For babies, sucking invokes pleasure and can calm a hungry baby or
comfort a teething baby. Mouthing and chewing for babies is also a way for
them to explore their environment. However, there are some children who
continue to engage in these oral type behaviors long after infancy.
These children seem to have a need or intense craving to put things into
their mouths. They may bite their nails, chew their skin on their hands,
suck their fingers or thumb, bite their clothing, chew on crayons, or suck
on or chew toys and other non-food items. They may also be children who have
poor oral motor skills, may drool excessively, may have poor eating skills
(under weight or over weight) and poor oral hygiene habits. They may also be
more socially immature and needy, and have more difficulty with separation
from their parents.
If this sounds like your child, it is advised that you seek an evaluation
from an occupational therapist or speech therapist who can assess the
reasons behind the need for this oral behavior. Some children have an oral
fixation due to being weaned too early or too late in the infant oral stage
(with bottle, breast or pacifier). Other children may be under sensitive
(hyposensitive) in their mouths and have a need or craving for more oral
stimulation that they get by sucking or chewing on non-food items. These
children when eating may prefer intense flavors like hot, salty or sour.
Some children engage in these oral behaviors due to a diagnosis or
developmental delay. For many children this is a sensory need and by
developing a sensory plan which includes ways to appropriately satisfy their
oral cravings, while teaching coping strategies and substitutions for
inappropriate oral behaviors we can gradually get these kids on a successful
path to reducing their oral fixations.
Therapists may use a combination of therapy tools to help your child
overcomes his or her oral fixation. Some examples can be seen at the links
More Parenting Tips Related to Behavior
Parenting Tips in Other Areas Include
Learn More About Early Intervention
Thankfully, there are many ways to deal with childhood developmental
delays and behaviors. These include in-home services, outpatient (you take
your child to a clinic), inpatient (following injury or surgery) and school
based services. Which type of therapy should you choose?
Visit our Therapy Options
area to learn more.
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