Starting tomorrow, I'm breaking the chewing habit. Not the pacifier habit - never had one of those, not since leaving NICU almost. It's not a need to suck - it's a need to chew. When therapists ask about "excessive mouthing of inedible objects past the age of two" (phrase I frequently read in surveys), they're not asking about a pacifier. They mean gravel. The vintage Fisher Price people (the ones about the size and shape of a AA battery). Junk mail. Rubber bands. Batteries. They mean, does the kid walk around all day with a toothbrush in his mouth and occasionally bite YOU if he's bored enough? YES.
Kittyboy's had enough stuff taken swiftly from his hands and mouth and then lectured for it, that he now chews on his tongue. All - day - long. But Mom, it's my tongue, it's not a rock! It's not a small toy! It's not a poker chip!
But it annoys me, greatly. His right cheek actually is puffier than the left, because he tucks his tongue in it and chews away. It's that or the toothbrush. And the toothbrush is getting disgusting.
Poker chips from his play piggie bank used to be the chewie of choice, when they were the perfect size to sit between his teeth. I relaxed about those once I realized there was no way he could swallow them. He'd just keep two or three tucked between his jaws all day long. Then his mouth got big enough where they were no longer the perfect size, and darn it, we were on the prowl for something else again. Before we realized he could CLIMB, I was removing things like batteries from his mouth, things which were Put Up Out Of Reach, and demanding to know where on earth he'd gotten them, and he would widen his eyes and hold his hands out with an expression of absolute innocent cluelessness.
Tonight he ate rubber bands. I came into the living room and found him happily eating little clear rubberbands with which I'd done my sister's hair for prom. I flipped out. I yelled NO and NOT FOOD and NOT IN MOUTH, and told him to help me pick them all up and put them back in the bag. Then I had to keep intercepting them before they got to his mouth, because he was unfazed by my flipping out, and by golly he liked those.
I've tried chew toys before without success, because of course if you actually WANT him to chew on it, he's not interested. Well, I have a new tactic. I've been telling him all day to stop chewing his tongue. Stop chewing. Stop chewing. Stop chewing! STOP CHEWING! So I made new chew toys tonight, to offer every time his tongue's in his cheek. Aquarium tubing, I figure, has to be basically food-grade, because people who monitor their tank's pH and other chemistry, and read the nutritional labels on fish food would not put something in their tank that would break down over time or release anything harmful. And every tank everywhere has airline tubing. And airline tubing won't hurt him if he falls with it in his mouth.
Well, so this picture doesn't show it all THAT wonderfully, but I have four chew toys made. Airline tubing, and the bigger hose is from a gravel vacuum. We're going to be having Discussions tomorrow, every time he chews his tongue, about what we chew and what we don't. Here, have a chewie. Have two or three or four!