Babies are unpredictable most time. They could be happy and playing one minute and become fussy the next. Their changing moods, habits, non-verbal cues, and behaviors make it hard to understand what they are trying to communicate. One typical behavior among most babies is chewing hands.
Once your little one discovers their hands, they may focus on and play with the hands all the time. Experts report that putting hands on the mouth can be attributed to self-discovery. And that babies are learning how the hands and all the different things they can do with their hands.
But, sometimes chewing hands is on the extreme end, especially when accompanied by crying. Excessive hand chewing can be a concern to many parents. If you’re among those parents wondering why your baby aggressively eats their hands and cries, here are possible answers to your questions.
Possible Reasons Why Your Baby Chew Hands And Solutions
Your baby eating their hands could be an early sign that they’re hungry. Babies and infants may suck on their hands, trying to communicate that they want to eat. So, anytime your baby eats their hands, think about the last time you fed them. If it was more than 3 hours, chances are they’re hungry. According to WIC breastfeeding Support, other signs of hunger include rooting, fussiness, smacking lips, and flailing limbs. Crying is usually a late sign of hunger. And your child crying and sucking on their hands could mean they’re starving.
Solution: if it’s been a while since your baby ate, you may consider feeding them. If your baby accepts the bottle or food and calms down, it shows they were hungry. A hungry baby would also stop sucking hands once they get satisfied.
Teething is another possible reason for babies sucking their hands. Most babies start teething around 4-7months. If your infant fall in this age group, they could be teething. During teething, the gum tissues swell and become painful. The pain causes babies to bite on anything they can find, including their hands. Biting helps the infants scratch their gums, making them feel good about the sore spots. Besides biting, babies who are teething may have the following symptoms:
- Swollen gums.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Increased drooling.
- Decreased appetite.
So, if your little bite hands, cries, has most of the signs above, and is between 4-7 months, they could be teething.
Solution: While you cannot stop teething, you can help your child feel better as they undergo this difficult phase. Offering your baby teething toys like teething rings may help lessen their biting hands. Teething rings are filled with water that can be cooled in the refrigerator. The chilled water can help reduce the pain. Teething gels are also great at providing relief during teething. These gels help numb the gums, reducing the pain. Remember to buy teething toys made of non-toxic and durable materials, so they don’t break easily.
Your child could be chewing their hands because they want to explore the world around them beyond observation. They see hands as fascinating objects and a source of entertainment. What interests them more is that they can control them, wave, pick stuff up, and sticking in their mouth.
Your little one may also be figuring out the different senses and how different objects taste, feel, and what their temperature is. Note that if your baby is chewing hands because of exploration, they’ll soon start reaching for objects and putting them in their mouths.
Solution: children will always be children, and exploration is a way of learning. So, you cannot prevent them from exploring their world. However, you can create a childproof environment in your house. How do you go about that?
Remove all sharp, small, toxic, or dangerous objects in your house and place them where your baby cannot reach. Ensure the objects your baby can grab are safe to chew. It’s also recommended to buy toys made of non-toxic and durable material. Remember to wash the objects your child plays with daily with warm water and soap. And sterilize them once a week by placing the objects in hot water for 5-10 minutes.
Although newborns don’t have much to do apart from feeding, crying, pooping, and sleeping, they can get bored. Immediately your infant starts spending more time awake; they may get bored by being in one place for long by themselves. To kill the boredom, your child may put fingers in their mouth as a way of playing. Once they get tired of this, they may start crying. So, if your baby sucks on their hand and cry because they’ve been in one place alone for a long, they could be bored.
Solution: try engaging your child with music, sounds, figures, or colors. You can sing for them, play with them using colorful toys, talk to them, hold them, or take them to a different place. Doing so would make your baby engaged, killing the boredom. If the play gets too much, your child may become overstimulated. In such a case, cuddle your baby in a quiet place, play soothing music, or give them a pacifier.
if you’ve just washed your baby, fed them, and they’re comfortable eating their hands, they could be self-soothing. Most young children fall asleep on the boob, bottle, or pacifier, associating sucking with sleeping. Your baby may be sucking their hands to relax, wind down, and sleep.
Solution: discourage your child from sucking their hands to sleep. Remove the fingers from their mouth when your baby is drowsy but not completely asleep.
Extreme hand chewing can be a sign of oral thrush. Mood changes, white velvety sores in the mouth and tongue, and refusing to nurse are other signs of oral thrush. If your child has these signs, they could be having oral thrush.
Solution: consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Your baby constantly and aggressively chewing and crying can mean lots of things. Find out what’s making them behave that way and fix the issue. If you’re unable to, consult your pediatrician.