Anna Way is quite an adventurous eater. The 13-month-old has already tried tissues, fallen leaves, and her older brother’s stickers.
“She sort of clamps down and gets this happy look on her face, and we know there’s something in her mouth that probably shouldn’t be there,” says Anna’s mom, Carolyn, of Burlingame, CA.
Children this age will taste anything they can get their hands on. Why? Simply because they can. They’ve developed the motor control to maneuver food (or other things) into their mouths, and they’re eager to exert their new independence by choosing what to eat.
To help your child stay safe while he’s having fun exploring:
Don’t tempt him. Avoid taking medicine or vitamins in front of him, and don’t use your teeth to open packages and wrappers.
Feed his curiosity. Offer toys that stimulate the senses, with a variety of textures and shapes. Make meals visually appealing by providing colorful foods such as cheddar-cheese slices, carrots, peas, and blueberries.
Let him know when he’s crossed the line. When he samples something icky, like mud, shake your head no, frown, and say, “We don’t eat that!”
Keep your perspective. This indiscriminate tasting usually ends around 24 months — at which point your child will start hounding you for plain old cookies.