It’s not abnormal for a toddler to put things in their mouths. But as a parent, it can drive you crazy, feeling like you need to keep a constant eye on your little one to keep them from chewing on unsafe or unsanitary items. Here we’ll talk about why some toddlers have such a strong need to chew and how you can help them find a chewing substitute with our recommended toddler chew toys.
Is it normal for a 2-year-old to chew everything?
You know that every baby goes through a teething stage, but you may be wondering if it’s normal if your child continues to chew and bite on everything even into toddlerhood. The answer is YES! (There's a reason so many toys have the warning "not suitable for children under the age of 3.)
There are lots of reasons why your child may continue to chew on inedible objects up until the preschool years. Next, we'll talk about why this habit is so common at this age.
Why do toddlers chew on things?
Now that you know your toddler’s constant chewing is developmentally appropriate for this age group, let’s talk about why your little one feels such a strong need to chew.
In our article, “Best Remedies for Your Teething Baby,” we discussed how most babies get their first tooth around 6 months of age, and will continue to get teeth through toddlerhood.
And if you take a look at this chart form the American Dental Association, you’ll see that a baby’s second molar doesn’t come in until between the ages of 25 and 33 months (hence why they’re called “2-year molars!). As the largest teeth, this can make for a very uncomfortable, and even painful, time for your toddler.
So all that chewing your baby is doing could very likely be a way to self-soothe some very sore gums.
Though your child explores the environment around them through all of their senses, your toddler may lean more towards exploring with their mouth. According to Parents Magazine, babies who have relied on bottles or pacifiers past the age of one may be more likely to explore in this way. Your toddler is trying to make sense of their world, and this is one way they may choose to do it.
Lastly, your toddler may find that chewing on objects provides comfort as overstimulation at this age is very real. A baby who no longer has a pacifier or has moved on from a bottle or breastfeeding, may replace that similar comfort by finding something to put their mouth on. Fatherly writes, “When a toddler is frustrated or overstimulated, they can seek out sensory input to help them focus or distract them from discomfort.”
Self-soothing in the form of chewing (or biting) is very common at this age.
Is toddler chewing ever cause for concern?
Though most children will grow out of their chewing phase during toddlerhood or the preschool years, some children will continue to have this oral fixation. Since chewing is a normal behavior during toddlerhood, there really isn’t any reason for it to cause you concern. However, if it does continue, this is something that you’ll want to discuss with your doctor.
But as for now, you want to find a strategy that works for your little one to keep them chewing on objects that shouldn’t be in their mouths.
Helping Your Child Move Away From Chewing on Unsafe Objects
Though biting and chewing in toddlerhood can be a normal part of growing up, as a parent, you want to help your child do it in the safest way possible. You certainly don’t want to take the option of chewing away since it is likely giving them comfort and relief from something.
Instead, it’s important that you find a toddler chew toy as a replacement that will give your child this same calming benefit.
What to Look for (and Avoid) in a Toddler Chew Toy
As you know, babies and toddlers will often put anything in their mouths that gives them the oral stimulation they need. Plastic toys, wood blocks, and books are all fair game...and we know you do your darndest to keep small, unsafe objects out of reach from your little one. But it can be tough to keep all these things out of your kiddo’s mouth.
Your best bet is to find a toddler chew toy that is easily accessible to your little one. This might mean having more than one, and we also recommend giving your toddler a chew toy that they have access to 100% of the time.
Here's what to look for in a great toddler chew toy:
1. Find a toddler chew toy that is wearable.
Though a toddler chew toy doesn’t have to be wearable, it can be really helpful. Otherwise, you might find that your toddler continues to chew on whatever happens to be around. Small children are notorious for leaving things behind, so if it’s wearable, it’ll go where your little one does.
2. Be sure that it’s made with safe materials.
Pay attention to the materials used to manufacture the chew toy. Whatever you choose should be designed specifically to go in your baby’s mouth. Also look for safety information to ensure that it’s been tested and approved, like you can see here at Tasty Tie.
3. Avoid any type of chew toy that could wrap around your toddler’s neck. If you do a search on toddler chew toys, you’ll likely find a lot of necklace options. These work great for older children who have oral sensory needs, but they are a choking hazard for young children.
What about baby teethers - can those be used for toddlers?
Baby teethers can work great as toddler chew toys. If there is a particular teether your little one always loved, that would be a great place to start. However, you might find that something else might word a bit better. Read on to find out a few of our top suggestions for toddler chew toys.
Best Toddler Chew Toys
There are many options for toddler chew toys, so we took the time to narrow down the list for you with a few of our top favorites.
We love Tasty Tie as a toddler chew toy! Because it is wearable and is always within reach for your little one, you’ll never have to worry about them chewing on less desirable objects.
Here are the other notable features of Tasty Tie:
- Clips onto any toddler outfit or shirt
- Provides two different chewing surfaces
- Designed for babies 3 - 18 months, but can be used up to any age
- Soothes sore gums due to teething
- Offers stimulating crinkle sounds
- Calms your baby or toddler wherever you are
- Comes in 12 patterns
- Easy to wash in the dishwasher or washing machine
Earlier we discussed how many toddlers have a need to chew due to teething. Those molars popping through can have your little one in tears if they don’t have a way to comfort the gums. The Molar Magician was designed specifically for older babies and toddlers who are teething.
Here are other notable features of the Molar Magician:
- One-handed use for small hands
- Multiple textures
- Can glide in all directions
- Clips on your baby’s clothing
- Exceeds choking hazard dimensions
Another wearable option for a chewing toddler is a bracelet. Because it’s on your child’s wrist, it’s always available (without the risk of a necklace.) Like the Tasty Tie, this one also doubles as a cute accessory your child will love to wear.
Here are other notable features of Ark’s Brick Bracelet Chew:
- Comes in three toughness levels - standard level is usually best for toddlers
- Twist-on design
- Tactile bumps are great for added texture
- Flexible in design means your toddler can twist and turn it every which way
Home Remedy Option
You may find that your chewer prefers a softer texture. A home remedy you can also try is to give your baby a washcloth soaked in ice water. This is a great substitute if you have a toddler who typically chews on their clothing.
You are not alone in your efforts of trying to get your toddler to chew on something more appropriate. Like many other things young children do, this is likely just a stage that they will grow out of. Finding a toddler chew toy that your little one always has at the ready can be the perfect solution until that day comes.