5 - 6 Months

Mouthing and speech development (there’s a connection)

Baby playing with the Magic Tissue Box

Your baby is tasting and mouthing everything they can right now. Until about month 12, babies take in more information through their mouths than they do through their fingers. At this stage, the nerves in your baby’s mouth are more developed than those in any other part of their body.

Studies show that mouthing objects helps your baby’s speech development and prepares them for different food textures, but it’s important to know what is safe for your baby to put in their mouth.

Here are some objects you may already have in your house for safe (supervised*) mouthing and exploration:

  • Silicone-tipped spatula
  • Baby toothbrush
  • Partially-frozen washcloth
  • Metal spoon
  • Wooden spoon
  • Hands and feet: your baby may love to suck on their own—or your—fingers or toes 🙂

*Supervising your baby with these objects is important because they could choke on the handle of a spoon or toothbrush if it goes too far into their mouth. Also make sure small chokeables are out of reach.

Things your baby might love to mouth but shouldn’t

  • Your real keys: babies love the jangle of keys, but as tempting as they are, they may contain lead and can be dirty
  • Real tissues: babies can gag or choke on soggy, wadded-up tissues
  • Wipes: wipes manufacturers do not intend for your baby to mouth and suck on them

Learn more about the research

Babik, I., Galloway, J. C., & Lobo, M. A. (2022). Early exploration of one’s own body, exploration of objects, and motor, language, and cognitive development relate dynamically across the first two years of life. Developmental Psychology, 58(2), 222–235.

Berger, S. E., Cunsolo, M., Ali, M., & Iverson, J. M. (2017). The trajectory of concurrent motor and vocal behaviors over the transition to crawling in infancy. Infancy, 22(5), 681-694.

Iverson, J. M. (2010). Developing language in a developing body: The relationship between motor development and language development. Journal of Child Language, 37(2), 229-261.


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Posted in: 5 - 6 Months, Communication, Mouthing, Real World Play, Sensory Play, Playtime and Activities, Child Development

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