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!

What can I do next?

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.

M.

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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!
B.

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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.

1 mom found this helpful

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.

1 mom found this helpful

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.

1 mom found this helpful

Have you tried simple distraction? Some habits are SO hard to break, especially for little ones who don't understand the reasons behind our frustration.

You may try handing him a toy or other object to distract his attention every time you catch him at it. It will probably take firm consistency, but hopefully it will be short lived!

1 mom found this helpful

put mittens or gloves on his hands. i really have no cure. at the local snowball stand this weekend, i saw a little girl about six years old sucking her thumb. with her siblings surrounding her, i said think of all the things you touched today... they are now in your mouth. her siblings said groce ... oh... you were in the bathroom, blah, blah, blah... she stopped thought about it and in a few minutes thumb was back in her mouth. again her siblings started ribbing her about where her thumb/hand had been previously... she stopped... who knows if this method will be successful or not.

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Hi A. -

When your son puts his hands in his mouth, all you can think of is, "GERMS" --- put that thought aside for a minute and think past it. It is blocking you from what is really going on.

Now, there are many things you can rule out -

Has he been to a dentist yet? He could have something going on with his teeth, like swelling, a cavity that is hurting him, or an infection, even a yeast/thrush problem which makes his mouth itch - very common. Also, if he has allergies to any foods, his mouth will itch, or from reactions to acidic fruits, etc... his mouth will itch. Any seasonal allergies can also cause this problem. Remember that at age three, kids certainly cannot always put into words what is bothering them. And, this is why you have to think outside the germ box.

Secondly, there are some children that are very oral - they keep doing this - putting their hands in their mouths or objects in their mouths at even the age of three. These children are still building nural connections and are usually highly intelligent kids - it's just the way they are wired and it is literally a biological need they have to do this.

Remember too, that he is still building his immune system and unfortunately this strengthens it - germs. Our society is germ-phobic and I can attest to being a germ-phobic mom. However, there are so many "good germs" in the sense of what we need to build and protect our bodies.

I know it is hard, but don't let your considerations cease at the thought of germs, germs, germs. For your little boy's sake, you have to get beyond this and figure out what is really going on. If you don't, you are letting the issue with germs rule over possible needs your child has and I am sure when you see things in this perspective, you would not want to do that. Have you asked him questions about his mouth, or his hands? Have you thought to have him color a picture of how he feels with his hands in his mouth? These are tools to use with small children that still lack more clear communication skills. Get creative and try and see what is behind this.

Good Luck A. - I know you'll figure this out. Also you can ask if you or your husband had a similar tendency when you were both children.

Alli

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I have NO help for this one because I have a 9 y/o who won't keep her fingers out of her mouth. In January, we all had lice pretty bad, and she had quite a few adults. After the treatment, knowing she wasn't egg free yet, she was scratching to no end, and then putting her fingers in her mouth. I explained what she was doing to herself and it still did no good.

I know you can contract thrush at any age, and the bacteria under your finger nails is really disgusting. I will be watching this one to see if there is any advice I can use. I have tried no bite and that only works for about a day unless I put it on again. So I guess that's all the advice I can offer.

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That is a hard one. You can try to put gloves on especially in the Winter. You might take a soapy washcloth and wipe his hands and not rinse them, let them dry........that way when he puts his hands in his mouth the soap residue will taste bad. It shouldn't hurt him......just use ivory. You could give it a try and see how he reacts......it might work and may not take but one or two times before he decides not to put his hands in his mouth.
Good luck, Frances B.

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My Mom broke me by wiping my hands with "wet ones" it tastes gross.

1 mom found this helpful

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.

M.

1 mom found this helpful

i have a cousin whos almost 22 now but when he was younger he obsessively bit his nails to the point of bleeding. so my grandma went to walmart and bought this stuff called stop, it was to help stop nail biting and thumb sucking and stuff and he pretty much stopped after a few times of putting that stuff in his mouth. its like nail polish and you just paint it on to the nail but it tastes so gross. maybe just making his hands taste bad will help break the habit. good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

I too have a three year old that does the same thing! And I just thought of something when I read your request, I'm gonna try it too! When my oldest son started biting his nails in Kindergarten I bought this nail polish stuff that prevents kids from biting their nails and he stopped especially after I explained how nasty it was to do it and about all the germs. Well when my three year old turned one or two he started biting his nails also so I bought the same stuff and he stopped, so now I've noticed that he keeps putting his fingers in his mouth like you say yours does and occasionally bites his nails again from time to time but just on one nail! So I think I'm gonna get the nail stuff again and try it the thing with him though is he puts things in his mouth also! Not so sure what to do about that, do three year olds go through an oral stage all over again? Well I'm gonna try that for his hands and see if it works the stuff tastes awful! he should stop doing it good luck. I think you can find it at Sally's and Wal-Mart. Also paint his nails with it while he is sleep! Do this for several reason that I will not go into detail over (LOL)

1 mom found this helpful

My son went through the same stage when he was about 3 1/2. It drove me crazy because he was never a mouthy kid before. Just all of a sudden he had his hands in his mouth all the time. I kept telling him to get his hands out of his mouth and that he was not a baby. I sort of turned it into a game. Every time I would see him with his hands in his mouth I would say "Hands on your head!" and he'd put his hands on top of his head. It took a couple of months of me consistently reminding him to keep his hands out of his mouth. He finally stopped...thank goodness.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't know how to keep his hands out of his mouth...mine did the same thing,but thankfully "grew out of it." In the meantime, carry a bottle of hand sanitizer around with you and periodically give him a dose. That can alleviate some of the things he is getting in his mouth. Good Luck, God Bless!

1 mom found this helpful

my son has sensory intergration disorder and he chews on everything so we put him in ot and they gave him things to chew on and it helped

1 mom found this helpful

Well, every child is different. I had this issue with mine and I made them sit on their hands. I would tell them once, then the next time I had to tell them I would say, "One more time and you're sitting on your hands." Inevitably, they would end up sitting on their hands. They might not speak to me while they were doing it, but oh well!

Oh, and if you're shopping or walking so he/she can't sit on their hands, then you could make them stick them in their pockets or clasp them behind their back.

Good luck!

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