As a parent, it’s natural to worry when you see your 3-month-old baby chewing on their hands. Is it a sign of an underlying issue, or is it just a developmental phase?
In this article, we’ll dive into the reasons why your baby chew on their hands or constantly putting fingers in the mouth, when it’s a cause for concern, and what you can do to help. So, let’s get started and put your worries to rest!
Key Takeaways on Newborn Baby Sucking or Chewing on Hands
- Hand-chewing is a common behavior in 3-month-old babies, but excessive or aggressive hand-chewing can be a sign of an underlying issue.
- Teething, developmental exploration, self-soothing, overstimulation, simple boredom or when a baby is hungry, are some of the reasons babies chew on their hands.
- Providing their favorite playthings and engaging activities, offering frequent feedings, and keeping a calm environment can help reduce hand-chewing behavior in 3-month-old babies.
Why Do 3 Month Olds Chew on Hands?
Several reasons can explain why a 3-month-old baby chews on their hands:
One of the most common reasons young babies suck or chew on their hands is teething. At this age, a baby’s teeth start to develop, and the process can cause gum irritation and discomfort. Chewing helps relieve the pain.
At three months old, babies start to develop their motor skills, and their hands become more accessible. It is normal for them to explore their body parts with their hands, including their mouths.
Exploration is another reason why babies chew on their hands. Babies use their mouths to learn about their environment by exploring textures, tastes, and sensations.
When babies are hungry, they may suck or chew on their hands as a hunger cue. In fact, the natural sucking instinct is one of the primary hunger cues for babies from zero to five months old. Other early signs of hunger include turning their head towards a breast or bottle, the baby is sucking on their hand, lip smacking, and the child has clenched hands.
Babies have a natural instinct to suck, and whenever they are drinking milk, they are suckling. When they aren’t feeding, they may start to suck on their hands as a way to self-soothe and satisfy their sucking reflex. It’s essential to recognize these other signs of hunger and in such cases, feed your young baby frequently, as hunger can lead to other issues such as excessive crying or difficulty sleeping.
Chewing on their hands can be a way for babies to self-soothe. It can be a form of relaxation and provide a sense of comfort.
Overstimulation can cause babies to feel overwhelmed and anxious, leading them to chew their hands. It can be helpful to provide a calm and quiet environment to reduce overstimulation.
When to Be Concerned About Hand Sucking
While hand sucking and hand chewing is completely normal, but it can become a concern when it becomes excessive.
If you notice that your baby is chewing on their hands excessively or aggressively, it may be a sign of an underlying issue, such as oral thrush or developmental delays.
It is essential to observe your baby’s behavior and seek professional help if necessary.
Tips to Stop the Behavior
Seeing your baby putting their hands into their mouth can be super cute. But if you want to help your baby stop chewing on their hands, the following tips can be helpful:
Provide Alternatives for Soothing Babies
Offer teething rings when babies exhibit signs that they are teething like constantly sucking, excessive drooling and fussiness to redirect chewing behavior, help relieve teething symptoms, discomfort and provide a safer alternative to their hands. Teething gels may not be as effective but applying them feels soothing.
Keep Them Occupied
Keeping your baby occupied can reduce their hand-chewing behavior. Provide sensory toys, activities and other objects that can engage their attention and keep them entertained as soon as your baby shoves their hands into the mouth.
Use this time as an opportunity to help your babies learn about the world around them through self-exploration and develop early fine motor and visual motor skill sets.
Offer Frequent Feedings
If your baby chews on their hands as a sign of hunger, offer frequent feedings throughout the day to keep them satisfied.
Babies can pick up on their parent’s emotions. If you are stressed or anxious, it can cause your baby to become overstimulated, leading to more hand-chewing behavior. Try to stay calm and provide a soothing environment for your baby.
Help A Teething Baby
Teething can be a challenging time for babies and their parents. Here are some tips on how to help relieve teething discomfort in your 3-month-old baby:
- Teething toys, frozen feeder or a cold washcloth provide relief for teething babies by offering a firm surface to chew on when their first tooth is just coming out. You can choose from a variety of shapes and textures, including rubber, silicone, or wooden toys.
- Keep small, sharp or dangerous objects away from our baby’s reach as soon as you seen common signs of a teething baby.
- Applying a cold compress, such as a clean washcloth soaked in cold water or a chilled teething ring, can help numb the sore gums and relieve pain.
- Gently massaging your baby’s gums with a clean finger can also help alleviate teething discomfort. Be sure to wash yours and your baby’s hands thoroughly before doing so.
- In some cases, your pediatrician may recommend giving your baby acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help alleviate teething pain. Be sure to follow the recommended dosage and consult with your pediatrician before giving any medication.
- Distracting your baby with a soft toy or activities can also help take their mind off of the discomfort. Singing, reading books, or going for a walk can provide a helpful distraction.
While it is normal for babies to explore their surroundings with their mouths, excessive hand-chewing can be a concern. Understanding the reasons why your 3-month-old chews on their hands can help you identify any underlying issues and provide appropriate solutions.
Providing alternative toys and activities, offering frequent feedings, and keeping a calm environment can help reduce the behavior. If you are concerned, seek professional help from your pediatrician.
FAQs on 3 month old chewing hands
Is it normal for my 3-month-old to chew their hands?
It is very common behavior for most babies to begin sucking or chewing on hands at an early age. Most of the time this behavior is seen a soothing technique or helps them fall asleep.
When should I be concerned about my baby’s hand-chewing behavior?
If your baby is chewing on their hands excessively or aggressively, it may be a sign of an underlying issue, such as oral thrush or developmental delays.
How can I help my baby stop chewing on their hands?
Providing alternative toys and activities, offering frequent feedings, and keeping a calm environment can help reduce the behavior.
Do babies suck their hand as a self-soothing method?
Yes, babies often suck their hands or fingers as a self-soothing method. Sucking is a natural reflex for infants, and they may do it to calm themselves down or to satisfy their need for oral stimulation. Sucking on their hand or fingers can also be a sign of hunger, as babies may associate sucking with feeding.
It is important to note that excessive sucking or thumb-sucking can lead to dental problems in the long run, so parents should try to discourage these habits as the child gets older. However, in the first few months of life, hand-sucking is perfectly normal for a young child.
When should newborns stop sucking their hands?
Newborns have a natural urge to suck, and sucking their entire fist is a common soothing behavior. It is normal for newborns to suck their hands, and they may continue to do so for several months. This behavior usually lasts until your baby turns 6 or 7 months old.
As babies grow and develop other soothing techniques, they may naturally stop putting their hands into their mouths.
When should I seek professional help?
If you are concerned about your baby’s hand-chewing behavior, let your baby’s pediatric dentist or doctor discuss your concerns. They can provide guidance and support to address any underlying issues.