Are babies chewing on cribs a normal happening? Is it dangerous? What can you do if your baby is chewing on the crib?
If you have a baby, chances are that at some point you are going to walk into your child’s nursery and catch him or her chewing on the railing of the baby bed. If the bed railing is painted, the baby will likely have paint chips all over his or her face, sticking to the teeth, and even down the baby’s throat.
If the baby already has teeth, there may even be tiny wood splinters mixed with the paint. It could cause any mother to worry if babies chewing on cribs is dangerous, and wonder what they can do to stop it. Let’s take a look at why a baby would chew on the crib, whether or not you should be worried, and if it can be stopped.
But, Why Do Babies Chew On Cribs?
If you are a new mother, you may be wondering why a baby would even choose to chew on his or her crib. There are a number of reasons that your baby could choose the railing of his or her bed as something to chew on. Let’s look at a few of them:
Your Baby Could Be Teething
There could be several reasons for babies chewing on cribs, but the most likely reason that your baby would chew on its baby bed is that the baby is teething. A teething baby will have sore gums that can also be irritated and itchy and chewing on a hard surface like the bed railing can be very soothing for him or her.
If this is the case with your baby, it is likely that you have also found him or her chewing on other things, such as toys, other furniture, clothing, or pretty much anything that the baby can get into his or her mouth. While this can be relieving for the teething baby, it can also be stressful for the mom, and even dangerous for the child.
Your Baby Could Have Anxiety
One study shows that when a baby is chewing excessively, he or she could have anxiety. While chewing on strange things is not a sign of anxiety in babies by itself, chewing on his or her fingers, crib rails and other things, along with other symptoms of anxiety, could be a sign that your baby is anxious.
You can best judge whether or not a child is suffering from anxiety by watching his or her behavior as opposed to asking questions. Of course with babies, asking questions and getting answers is probably not possible anyway, but you may want to keep this in mind when your child is older.
It Could Also Be Sensory Processing Disorder
Sensory Processing Disorder as a disorder in which the person’s brain receives information and processes that information differently than most people do. A child with this disorder could either be easily overstimulated by touch, sound, sight, etc. He or she could also be under-stimulated by the senses. Those who are overstimulated may find that sounds and/or lights or even the lightest touch can actually cause pain.
In children who have a Sensory Processing Disorder that causes them to be under-stimulated by their environment, the senses of touch, taste, and sounds can be lessened. Textures will not feel as obvious to them, and they may begin to chew excessively on clothing, themselves, or furniture. By itself, chewing is not enough to diagnose this disorder, but it is a sign that it could be SPD.
Is It Dangerous When Babies Chew on Cribs?
Of course, the main concern for any parent who finds that their little one is munching down on the bed railing is, “Is it dangerous when babies chew on cribs?” There are various opinions on the subject. While some say that it is definitely a dangerous habit for babies, others swear it is perfectly fine. Why did they come to these conclusions?
“It’s a Harmless Habit” – Many experts state that babies chewing on cribs is a “mainly harmless” habit that most parents will deal with. In a child's early life, it is both normal and common for the child to explore the world around them by putting almost everything into their mouth. This is how the child can learn, by feeling the different textures and tasting the various flavors of what they come in contact with.
“Yes, It is Very Dangerous” – Another group of people say that it is “absolutely dangerous” for a baby to chew on the railings of his or her crib. Here are the reasons why:
- Many crib railings are covered in paint – This point is especially true of older cribs which could be made with lead paint. Even if the crib is brand new and the label claims that the paint is non-toxic, your child could be sensitive to chemicals in that paint. This is even more of a danger if the paint chips off of the railings easily.
- Wood splinters could come off – Even with the most expensive and safe cribs, wood could splinter off when the baby teethes on the bed railings. This could lead to tiny splinters of wood being embedded in your child’s gums, mouth, throat, and digestive system. Wood debris could also become lodged in your baby’s airway or lungs and cause respiratory issues.
- The crib railing could be covered with wood stain – Even the cribs which do not have paint will likely be covered in wood stain. While stain will make the crib last longer and look shinier, the chemicals in it could be harmful to your little one. Again, even if the label says that it is nontoxic, your child could have a bad reaction to it.
So How Can You Prevent Babies Chewing on Cribs?
There are several steps that you can take to help prevent your baby from chewing on the rails of his or her crib. Of course, which prevention that you choose will depend on why your baby is showing this behavior. Here are some suggestions to help stop your baby from chewing the baby bed.
- Give your baby plenty of teething toys – Many times a baby will chew on his or her crib because of teething issues. For these children, chewing on a teething toy could be the answer. Most of these teethers are made from materials that are perfectly safe for your baby. You will want to make sure that the toys you choose for your baby to chew on are made for teething and age-appropriate.
- Introduce your baby to frozen treats – Another way you can help your baby get through the pain and irritation of teething gums is to introduce him or her to frozen treats. Popsicles are a delicious way to numb your baby’s gums. They even make teething toys that contain gel and can be frozen!
- Give your baby homemade treats with vanilla extract – Vanilla extract can help numb your baby’s painful gums as well. It can be added in small amounts to breast milk, ice cream, or even veggie or fruit drinks. Be sure to talk to your doctor about whether or not this is a good choice for your little one, and how much extract you should use.
- Add rail covers to your baby’s crib – You might also choose to add rail covers to your baby’s crib to help deter him or her from chewing on the rails. Rail covers are often made of soft cloth that the baby can safely chew on. They may also be made of rubber or plastic.
It is important to remember that your baby won’t be teething for long. When their gums are hurting, they are feverish and fussy and no one is getting any sleep, it can seem like this phase will last forever. Luckily, this part of teething usually ends as soon as the teeth start to appear through the gums. Cold treats, warm snuggles, and lots of patience can help make this much easier on your baby.
Even for babies who aren’t teething, just having alternatives to chew on can help deter them from using the bed rails. And just like with teethers, this phase of childhood likely will not last long and he or she will stop chewing and biting on everything in sight.
Always check with your doctor about any concerns that you have about your baby and his or her behavior. Your baby’s doctor is the best choice to help you decide why your baby is chewing his or her crib, and which method would be the most likely to calm the baby.