Thursday, March 8, 2012

Keeping things out of her mouth and hair on her head

As I sat down to write my monthly blog, I immediately thought of two things – how my daughter enjoys cramming things into her mouth and my constant struggle to keep her hair looking presentable. I know those are two varying topics, but you’ll soon see why they go hand in hand.

She never hesitates to put any and everything into her mouth.  As soon as she wakes up, she stuffs her blanket, her hand, or both into her mouth. This stuffing of the mouth is done in between her baby talk, or until she gets restless and cries for someone to pick her up and feed her.  Of course the cycle of putting something into her mouth begins again; this time with food – and that, more than anything else going into her mouth, makes her the most happiest.

But about a month ago, I had to stop sending my baby girl off to daycare with pretty bows in her head.  At her daycare, they give parents the option of viewing their children via a room monitoring system.  Because of the monitoring system, we found out Nandi had an addiction – she liked to suck on her bows.  My parents, who live out-of-state, usually watch her daily, thanks to technology.  In fact, my husband and I affectionately call the daycare’s monitoring system “Nandi-vision”.  Well, several weeks ago, after watching their grandchild on Nandi-vision, my parents called me with the news. “You need to stop putting those bows in her head, because she’s sticking them in her mouth and could choke!” Needless to say, the news didn’t surprise me.

I know safety comes first, but I kept thinking, “What am I going to do with my child’s hair?” The bows helped keep it from getting out of control – without the bows, her hair was all over her head.  One day, my husband’s mom jokingly said our daughter looked like Bozo the clown (along the back portion of her head, her hair isn’t as full as the rest).  I know as she gets older her hair will grow out, but right now, keeping her head presentable, so to speak, can be challenging.

So, now when I pick her up from daycare, all I can do is look at her and shake my head.  She looks at me with those big, adorable eyes, with her hair going every which way.  Now that she no longer has the bows, it seems she’s made it her mission to stalk other babies with bows in their hair. My mom called me one day saying, “Nandi attacked a little girl wearing a bow today, and she put it in her mouth.”  All I could do was laugh, because I could just imagine my baby looking like a madwoman snatching bows from innocent babies – as if to say, “If I can’t have them, nobody will!”

But it seems that oral exploration is a key developmental stage for babies, according to the experts. From toys, objects around the house, and yes, even hair bows, it allows infants to learn about their surroundings. They determine the taste and texture of objects by ramming them inside their mouths. On the other hand, babies sometimes put objects in their mouths to soothe the gums as their teeth come in.

When she’s not putting random objects in her mouth, I noticed something else my little angel does.  When I bathe her, she has the tendency to do the oddest thing.  Every now and then, she’ll open her mouth and lick on my arm. Personally, I think it’s nasty, so the first time she did it, I think I startled her. I immediately jerked my arm out of her reach, and she in turn jumped and looked back at me with eyes big as saucers. Realizing what she was doing, I calmed down and reminded myself that her licks fell in line with her oral exploration of the world.

As she moves about the house putting whatever she can into her mouth that happens to lie along her path, my husband and I just keep a watchful eye on her. We want her to explore her surroundings, but we also want to make sure she’s safe.

Despite not being able to wear hair bows to daycare, I do allow her to wear them on the weekends, especially during church.  She’ll behave herself, to a certain extent, while we sit in the pews.  She looks so cute with her bows matching her frilly outfit, but as soon as I turn my head, she’ll quickly yank off a shoe and stick it in her mouth.  So, not only do I have to worry about hair bows, I have to worry about her licking and sticking dirty shoes in her mouth.  It’s amazing that I actually get a chance to hear the sermon some Sundays.

My baby girl is definitely a busy body, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. If her quirky behavior and actions are signs of her constant development, then I’ll just grin (chuckle often) and bear it.  

Chandra is a Sr. Communications Specialist for Texas Health Resources and new Mom.

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