From Hand to Mouth

My daughter has brought back a behavior I was sure she had outgrown. Almost everything she touches goes into her mouth. I’ve had to take out her hair clips and elastics because she chews of them. I’ve found her with paper clips, knitting needles and decorative pumpkins in her mouth. I’ve tried punishing her, I’ve tried ignoring it but the behavior persists. I have a theory that it might be the result of the slow growth of her back molars, but it’s hard to be sure. (Ironically, she hates having her teeth brushed. Maybe if I used a paper clip.) At this point I settle for removing dangerous objects from her mouth when I catch her and letting the behavior go the rest of the time. Hopefully she will outgrow it. Of course the nail biting will be another matter. Yes, she’s starting biting her nails off before she is even age 3. Now it’s hard to know if this is nature or nurture causes behavior. I used to bite my nails until high school and my 32 year old husband still bites his. I have to admit, the habit totally disgusts me, even though I know I used to do it. I can’t believe I didn’t give it up sooner. I don’t usually catch my daughter at it, but I know she’s doing it because her nails on the left hand are always short and I almost never have to trim them anymore. While this does make my life easier, since she also dislikes having her nails trimmed, I’d rather she didn’t pick up such a gross habit at such a young age. But I can’t even begin to think of a way to prevent the behavior. I’m not even sure she knows she is doing it. Any ideas for how to keep her hands and toys out of her mouth? (Other than standing over her night and day).

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