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Teething Toys: More than Teething!

Chewing on toys offers numerous advantages such as enhancing oral motor skills for eating, encouraging good orofacial health, providing sensory stimulation, and bolstering hand-eye coordination.

Orofacial Development Teething toys aid in the orofacial development and feeding of babies. By chewing on these toys, the pressure exerted on the jaw contributes to the formation of wide dental arches and a properly shaped palate. This, in turn, facilitates the ideal alignment of new teeth and creates a healthy airway for nasal breathing. Wondering about the connection between chewing and airway space? The roof of the mouth serves as the base of the nose, meaning that a high palate reduces sinus capacity, whereas a broad palate increases it. Therefore, encouraging frequent chewing and biting early on is essential for promoting overall growth and development.

Pre-Feeding Skills

Similar to how rolling, sitting, and crawling serve as foundational skills for babies to walk, feeding also involves various developmental stages with incremental progress. Breastfeeding and/or bottle-feeding play a crucial role in the foundation of feeding development. Once mastered, infants are ready to practice more complex movements of the tongue, lips, and jaw in preparation for solid foods. Teething, or oral development toys, allow babies to practice.

Sensory Stimulation

Exploring toys with various sizes, shapes, textures, and colors helps babies gain a range of experiences that can help them transition to solid foods. This exploration allows babies to understand their mouths better and become more conscious of their mouth movements. They start to familiarize themselves with various pressures and sensations, similar to those encountered when eating solid foods. For instance, they learn how to adjust their bite force when biting into an avocado compared to a carrot stick, or how wide to open their mouth for a spoonful of puree versus a pizza crust. These early oral experiences can potentially encourage babies to be more adventurous when they eventually begin eating solid foods.

Hand-Eye Coordination

Engaging in the act of reaching for toys and bringing them to their mouth is a fantastic way for babies to enhance their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. This skill typically starts to develop at around 3 months of age. A helpful method to assist infants in reaching this milestone is by placing them on their side on the floor with toys nearby for easy access.

Teething/Oral Development Toys I Love

Additional Ways to Support Early Feeding Skills:

  • Baby-Led Weaning

  • Working with a SLP or OT feeding therapist

Seeking additional assistance for oral development? Has your baby experienced challenges with breastfeeding or bottle feeding? Do they have a history of tongue tie or tethered oral tissues, a high, narrow palate, or an open mouth posture at rest? These factors increase the risk of impaired feeding and orofacial development. Consult a speech-language pathologist or occupational therapist specialized in feeding therapy, tethered oral tissues and myofunctional disorders.

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