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Nose-Stuffing and Taste-Testing

Usually the scene goes something like this: You put your crawling baby on the floor so that you can make a quick snack for yourself. You notice a certain stillness that can only mean trouble, and you turn to find your baby with a clamped-shut grin that absolutely confirms there's something in her mouth.

As you plead with her to "open up," try your best to stay calm. Getting anxious will only make her upset and increase her chances of choking. In the event that your baby does choke, be prepared to do CPR, and have the numbers of your doctor and local poison control center on hand. But for dealing with the day-to-day grind of a baby who's simply experimenting with her senses through her mouth  -- or, in some cases, nose and ears, too.

To cope with your mini vacuum cleaner:

• Taste-testers. Don't forbid your baby from putting things in her mouth, since it's part of her learning. Just be aware and in control of what's within her reach. Despite your best efforts, the occasional leaf or bug is going to make it in there; your goal is to make sure she doesn't "taste" anything hazardous.

• Nose/ear-stuffers. Say "ow!" dramatically (but not angrily) so she knows that it's not a joke, and whisk her off to a new activity. If you are unable to extract an object yourself, get your baby to a doctor immediately.

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