21 answers

Keep Hands Out of Mouth!!

How do I keep my 3 year old from constantly having his hands in his mouth? He does it when we are out and it is so gross! It makes me crazy because of all the germs.....he has been so sick this winter and I am sure this hand/mouth thing is contributing to it. I tell him to take his hands out of his mouth, but, I am NOT kidding or exaggerating, 3 seconds later his hand/fingers are right back to his mouth......I think it is a bad habit and I do not know how to break it!! HELP!

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Featured Answers

I tried this when my daughter (now 9) would not stop sucking her thumb and nothing else worked (including hot sauce and No Thum, which she liked both). I bought a pair of those really fuzzy stretchy gloves and taped them to her wrists at night so she could not get the tape off, but not too tight. After a couple of nights of that she decided that the "fuzzy" didn't taste so good in her mouth. Hey it's worth a try.


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More Answers

My understanding of behavior like this (habits) is that in order to stop the activity, it needs to be replaced with something else. Of coarse, finding things to keep a 3 year old occupied for any length of time is going to be difficult.

I would suggest considering the places you are going to be and plan accordingly. If you are going out to eat, take crayons, puzzles, whatever intrests your child and keeps his hands busy. In other places that are not conducive to those type of activities (like the grocery store), maybe offering a sugar-free lollipop or peice of hard candy with keep his mouth occupied. You can also teach him songs with fingerplay for the car to keep his hands and mouth busy.

Hope this helps!

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My daughter's pediatrician actually said that her thumb sucking and finger sucking is not a totally bad thing. She explained that it helps with her being able to soothe herself, as well as building a strong immune system. It was mentioned that kids who suck their thumb, fingers, or hands build up a stronger immune system, due to the abundant exposure to various germs. I know this sounds bad and gross, but if you think about it people who are germ phobic have a tendency to get sick more often and are more prone to allergies due to their limited exposure and constant use of sanitizers. Not to mention the constant use of sanitizers can actually be more harmful cause it eliminates the inherent oils that protect your skin.

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My one year old does that constantly when he is having a tooth come in. I have not found anything that helps it, except for the occasional toy. I asked our doctor and she said not to worry, he would grow out of it. I would not advise the hand sanitizer though as it has alcohol in it and in such a small body it would not take much ingestion from off his hands to make him sick.

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There is a finger thing that you put around your thumb. It taste digusting! If you put it on your son's hand, he shouldn't suck on his hand/fingers. I think it's called "Yucky Stuuf". I'm not sure.

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My son is 4 years old. He had a habit of chewing his nails. I sat him down one day and explained to him the germs, bugs and all the gross stuff that is on his fingers and under his nails. I told him those gross bug germs go in your mouth and down in your tummy. Then I ask him, do you want all those gross bugs down in your tummy making your tummy upset and getting you sick? That worked! Every now and then he forgets and I remind him about the bugs.

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It's always easiest to start from infancy but since your child is a toddler, some ppl slap the hand gently or just keep pressing the hand/hands down & say a firm "NO!" You just have to be repetitive sometimes. Some ppl go as far as putting something yucky on the hands to keep it from happening. Usually it's from wanting to learn. Kids sometimes learn by smelling or tasting but you're right he should'nt do it at all. Good luck.

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From my experience with my highly oral children, it is a way to focus, a way to self soothe, and a way to regulate sensory neurons in the brain. You could try giving him something more acceptable to chew on. For some, they let their children (no matter how old) to suck a pacifier. The abilitations website has many chew things, like the chew tube (looks like aquarium tubing and can be on the end of a pencil during school or on a clip on the clothes. there's the rubber coil bracelets and necklaces for a keyring that works well, and will stay cleaner then the hands as long as you make sure you clean it at night before bed.

1 mom found this helpful

My now-eight-year-old was a huge thumb sucker. As soon as I would pick her up from preschool, she would pop her thumb into her mouth in the car. During the fall & winter, when all the kids seemed to be getting colds and other viruses, as soon as I would see that thumb go towards her mouth, I said, "No, no, yucky germs, you need to wash your hands!". I really and truly was only concerned about the germs, and not the thumb sucking; however, the side benefit of my germ paranoia was that she decided her thumb was "dirty", and she totally weaned herself from thumb sucking! After a couple weeks of my "wash your hands first" routine, she would get into the car, her hand would go towards her mouth, she's stop herself & look at her thumb with sort of a disgusting look, and that was that. Also, you could try slathering your son's hands with hand sanitizer because that will taste yucky when it hits his mouth (and at least they'll be somewhat sanitized). I carry those small hand sanitizer bottles in my purse, my car, and have one in most rooms of the house.

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