Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Toy Review Tuesday: Mouth Box

A "mouth box" is basically a box of chewable toys or teething toys. Ever since Matthew was just a couple months old, his therapists have always emphasized the importance of mouthing toys. Am I giving him lots of opportunities for him to explore toys with his mouth? Is he bringing toys to his mouth by himself? Is he interested in mouthing toys?

Being a first-time mom and not having any prior experience with babies (not even baby-sitting), I have learned that:

  • a baby's mouth has more highly developed sensory receptors than any other part of the body.
  • exploring toys with the mouth is a crucial part of a baby's development as it enables a baby to learn about his/ her world.
  • mouthing toys affects oral-motor skills for feeding and speech, and is especially beneficial for babies and toddlers who have hyposensitivity or hypersensitivity to various textures or low oral tone.
There are hundreds of mouthing toys (bpa-free, latex-free, pvc-free, and generally safe for mouthing/ chewing) such as ones with massaging action or a vibrating teether, ones you can chill, textured pacifiers, and blanket teethers. We obviously can't have them all but I try to have enough that offer a wide variety of textures and sensory feedback - soft, firm/ hard, squishy, bumpy, crinkly, ridged, contrasting textures, cold, and vibratory.Some favorites in Matthew's Mouth Box include:

Lamaze Patty the Panda
This was one of the soft mouth toys that Matthew initially loved when he was a couple months old. It has different textures - soft, hard, crinkly, ridged. The crinkly ears and feet were his favorite. He doesn't chew on it anymore as he has moved on to more exciting toys so we've retired love-worn Patty the Panda.

Teething beads
Easy for a baby to grasp and easy to bring to the mouth to chew. This toy still gets some occasional use but not as loved as the chewy tube.

Red Chewy Tube
Not exactly a toy and it requires adult supervision to use. It is intended for developing jaw motion for biting and chewing skills, especially for individuals who have low oral tone. There are several kinds of chewy tubes, classified according to color. Yellow tubes are for babies or smaller jaws. Red tubes are the next level up, for toddlers. Green tubes have a knobby tube for extra sensory input. Blue tubes are the firmist and intended for adolescents or adults.

Parents Squishy Rubber Block
Not only are these great for stacking, they are also great for chewing and bpa-free. I often see Matthew crawling with a block in his mouth.

"Duo Spoon" made by Mealtime Notions
Another non-toy, mouth exploration tool to be used with adult supervision. Its bumps and ridges are intended to provide additional sensory input when feeding purees.

Mouth Toys Open the Sensory Doorway by speech-language pathologist, Suzanne Evans Morris, PhD offers more good information about mouth toys.


Adrienne said...

I really enjoy your posts because even though I have 2 other kids- they do not have DS and I just didn't have to think too much about sensory toys or if they were chewing on things but now with Bennett I know I need to be more aware so I kind of feel like I'm starting over a little. Or maybe just more in tune with what he's doing.

Lisa said...

Sheridan loves the green chewey tube with bumps all over it. I keep seeing the parents blocks, and I almost buy them every time for the very reasons you noted (but he has other blocks and didn't want to duplicate - but I think the parents blocks are much better)... I should just bite the bullet (or block as it were!) and get them!

Monica Crumley said...

I never thought about biting/chewing toys before. We had the colorful bead chewy thing w/ each of the other kids, but JM never took to it. Now he bites us when he's mad. Hmmm, something to look into.

To Love Endlessly said...

What a great topic. 2 more suggestions. Links that are sold in packs of 15-20 at a variety of stores like Target and Wal-mart offer a variety of textures for your child to mouth. Also, a vibrating toothbrush. Brushing your child's teeth twice a day is not only good for oral motor, but also encouraging healthy oral habits. After time, your child should follow the brush with his/her tongue...a very good skill for oral motor, something I learned from our SLP.

Ria said...

Adrienne, what a blessing Bennett is in helping you rediscover babyhood! It'll certainly be an eye-opening, fun ride. I enjoy following your blog too.

Lisa, I was hesitant about buying the parents blocks too at first but I was glad I did. Matthew enjoys stacking them, knocking them down, and then chewing on them. I hope Sheridan enjoys them too.

Monica, I highly recommend the chewy tube. I've been giving it to Matthew more these days and it seems like he is biting me less. I don't know if there is a direct correlation between the two, but I certainly enjoy having bite mark-free shoulders!

Patti, great suggestions! I especially love the vibrating toothbrush. I am still searching for one small enough for Matthew's mouth. Maybe just the regular-size Oral-B one with the round head will work?