14 answers

Advice for My 4 Year Old Putting Fingers in Mouth Constantly

Hello, I have a problem with my son constantly wanting to put his fingers in his mouth. I know this might not seem like a big deal to some people, but for me, I can't stand it. I try to tell him how germs will get in his mouth and make him sick. But, he reply's with "I can't help it" and you know how boys are, they like to get into everything, so his hands don't stay clean. I'm constantly saying "Aiden get your fingers out of your mouth." I don't know what to do anymore, any advise would be great!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

My daughters have the same issue. Give him something to crunch on. Be it crackers, popcorn, carrot sticks- something. That really seems to help. As my oldest gets older I find that helps her concentrate actually. She eats popcorn or chips while doing homework all the time and it really helps her focus.

Good luck.

More Answers

yeah, gross, my daughter kept biting her nails. I kept telling her it was gross, but not till I started telling her she could get worms from putting her fingers in her mouth did it get her attention. You could also tell him, oh let me go get the camera so I can show "someone he looks up to" that you have your fingers in your mouth again like a baby! Good Luck!!

My son does this too -- he has an oral fixation. He is getting Private OT for fine motor skill issues but it did not decrease it really. There are oral stimulators or brushes you can buy- we haven't gone that route yet. My son does it for stimulation-- mostly when he watches TV or rides in the car.


I have recently had the same problem with my 4 1/2 yr. old son. Our's began when he started going to a new babysitter some of the other children there do it. It drives me crazy!! I have been on him constantly everytime I see him put his fingers in his mouth and have even popped his hand a few times,and we have also used time out. I also asked the babysitter to stay on him to. It has been better for about a week now, I think all of us my husband, the babysitter and myself being on the same page and being cosistent is what is working. Hope this helps.

It would drive me nuts too. I would continue saying it over and over again. When he does it, don't just say to get his hands out of his mouth, stop what you are doing, get on his level, and say, "take them out of your mouth or you can go to time out until you stop" and make sure he hears you. You can also put something yucky tasting on his fingers the next time he does it. There is that nasty tasting clear nail stuff so ppl don't bite their nails. You can even goolge online the bugs that are under your nails. Maybe you could find some pics or a video. I had a friend when I was younger that saw a video and immediately stopped biting her nails for good! Or, if you would rather, reward him for every hour he goes w/ out putting his hands in his mouth. During that hour, keep saying, "you are doing great, just 10 more mins" Eventually he will be rid of the habit and you can move on to something else in need of that reward! Can he chew gum? Give him sugar free gum to chew so he doesn't want his hands.

Good luck,
W. M

Hi A.,
They make a product called Thums that is not harmful but is very bitter. It is used to help children stop sucking their thumbs I believe. Paint some of this on his fingers and that will definitely be a reminder to him every time he sticks his fingers in his mouth not to. I'm certain he will lose that habit quickly. I had found this in the Pharmacy at Target so you should be able to get it from about any pharmacy. If not, ask the Pharmacist to order some for you. Hope this helps!

It looks like you have several options here. Either keep telling him to stop over and over and over and one of these days he will grow out of it OR you can try NOT saying anything else and maybe he will forget about it and not do it. Sometimes if you keep telling them to stop it reminds them to keep doing it. OR you could try putting something on his fingers that tastes bad. They make that 'stop bite' for nails that isn't harmful if they put their hands in their mouth. OR you can also tell him that by putting his fingers in his mouth when they are dirty, could give him worms. (of course that one may cause you more problems. He may start having night mares of worms getting him... but who knows, it may just work.)
Good luck.

Hi A..
I wouldn't worry too much about the germs going in his mouth. I don't think he'll get sick from it, if anything it will make his immune system stronger :) he he (although, I wash my kids' hands if I think they touched something that will hurt them if it gets in their body. There's a middle road).
Anyway, I noticed you have a younger baby. My son (2) has started doing the same thing, copying his younger brother (9 mo) that likes to put everything in his mouth (including those tasty fingers!) I'm hoping it's a phase and I'm not making a big deal out of it.
Best of luck!

Oh my goodness, I still have this problem with my 11 year old. He says the same thing " I cant help it" or he doesnt even realize he is doing it. I told him about the whole germ thing also but it still hasnt gotten thru to him. If u get any good advice on how to stop it please let me know.


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