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Why is my baby putting hands in his mouth and you feel he is again hungry or is he teething?
I had the same worries and similar question.
Try and remove their hands from their mouth and see what look do you get and see how loud they can cry.
All the babies put their fingers, fist in their mouth for many reasons though the reasons may vary for different babies.
Around the age of 3 months until 1-year babies go through many developmental changes and growth spurt.
Meet many other milestones, so to soothe them this is one of the best available thing they find besides breastfeeding.
  • So putting a hand in the mouth or sucking on fingers soothes them.
  • Putting a hand in the mouth doesn't always mean they are hungry or the babies are teething.
  • They are learning hand and mouth coordination, which will later help them in self-feeding.
  • They are exploring their body. So this should be like in their little world I feel -Oh wow!I have hands yippee. Oh wow! I can put my hands in the mouth.
  • During the teething sprut, they always try putting hands or anything they find in their mouth suck on it. Teething is a difficult phase. Moreover, too soothe the pain or just stop it they put their hand in the mouth. Example -Don't we touch the part which is hurting again and again even after applying for any medicine. Don't we just keep looking at it or telling people it hurts?
  • Remember babies can not communicate how badly it is hurting so they cry or chew on something.
  • For more information on teething. Please go through my teething link for any queries.
  • Sucking on anything or everything soothes them like 9 months in the uterus they have received their share of food or nutrition from sucking.
  • They might suck on a teether, fingers, be at breasts for hours, thumb or any cloth or mitten for hours. It just doesn't mean they are hungry or teething.
  • When the mother is not around and the baby is sleepy and hungry and has a habit of sleeping while feeding they will put their fingers in mouth and soothe the hunger and fall asleep.
How to avoid it-
  • Times when you are around or your family members are around, try removing it, they may cry. It's ok, give some alternative (toy) instead of hand or fingers.
  • If you have just feed your baby the baby is still putting a hand in the mouth, let him/her do for some minutes then remove it (give them some time to explore their hands). After a few minutes or two give some sterilised toys in their hands.
  • Make them wear mittens and kittens.
  • If they are hungry they might put fingers, thumb in their mouth, don't let this become a habit. Do feed in two hours or whenever you feel the baby is hungry.
  • You being a mother now have started getting some cues or instincts about when your child is really hungry.
  • Gently remove their hand /foot from their mouth and immediately replace it with a toy or a teether or a teether replaceable food or a juice sucking toy (nibbler). Please do read the post about nibbler to know about its benefits how it helped me to introduce fruits /vegetables after 6 months.
Does this sucking a hand in the mouth or finger/s/ thumb become a habit?
Yes! It does become a habit if not stopped at the right time.
My few relatives had this habit even after they grew up .They were habitual of sucking the finger till they were about to reach teenage years.
Note -Please do stop the babies whenever you are around and replace it with the above-mentioned alternatives. It was very difficult to stop this habit for their parents.
P.S - This is from my personal experiences and the story's which I have heard at my place and what I have seen.
Do feed your baby whenever they are hungry instead of giving them their hand or fingers/ thumb, it assures them you are there around or they feel secure.
All other things can wait. Most important is your baby and their needs.
The hunger cry is very unique so, they won't cry the same way you take the toy or any alternative away from them.
When to be concerned -
  • If the finger or sucking is consistently there while sleeping or whenever they are hungry, do try and remove that habit or speak with your paediatrician about the same.
  • Do talk to your toddlers and explain they have grown up and they should not be doing this.
  • Show them, different baby/toddlers, how they sleep and tell them stories about how the fingers are tired and how they need rest.
Toddlers are very smart if repeated above stories it can help.
Note - I have not faced these issues, I feel it is similar to weaning off breastfeeding so suggesting the same.
Writer Note - If you have similar experiences/feedback do let us know we would love to hear it.
Happy Parenting

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