A baby and a toddler chewing at the books is a commonly seen scenario in many homes. Unfortunately, we cannot have our books and papers to be eaten by the little one. You should not encourage it because it is not healthy and not to be encouraged. However this requirement to chew on books comes from a need to taste the paper or rip it to shreds. Oh, the fun of ripping a paper!! Many people use it as a therapy to calm anger or anxiety. So what to do if your baby is eating books instead of reading them?
Everything when it comes to a baby or a toddler needs to be handled carefully. Even this because you don’t want to discourage your child from touching books at all. Most children up to 3 years old do not have enough concentration to sit and go through the book like we adults can do.
How can you turn this interest of a baby eating books into reading books
Buy Board Books
Invest in baby board books. Companies design these books to be sturdy and hard enough to handle a baby’s chewing, drooling, and fumbling fingers. They make these board books of thick pages which makes it easy for the baby to turn the pages by himself or herself. Once I noticed a baby who was trying very hard to turn the pages of a book. She couldn’t do it and the next thing she started doing was to put it into her mouth and start nibbling.
Keep these board books handy for your child to go ahead and venture reading on their own. By reading I mean looking at the beautiful, colorful images and text. Companies design so many interactive which are also available online to catch a child’s attention. So investing in sturdy board books is a way to prolong the shelf life of books for a baby that loves eating books.
Repeat “Books are for reading and Food is for eating”
Consistently repeat to your baby that books are for reading and not eating. We eat food. Consistency is crucial when it comes to babies and toddlers. If you do not want baby eating books then do not allow them to rip and shred newspapers, magazines, or any other waste papers. If you allow one thing and not another thing, it just makes everything confusing for the child.
A simple explanation as said above “Books are for reading and Food is for eating” should be enough. A baby is not really going to understand how important the books are or how it is toxic to put printed newspapers into their mouth.
Keep easily destructible books out of reach to avoid baby eating books
“Out of Sight, Out of Mind”
This is how it works with children. Until a baby who loves eating books sees them lying around him, he is not going to do that. So it is the best idea to keep easily destructible ones out of reach from your child. Keep it on a top shelf somewhere tightly packed away. Toddlers find a way to get what they want when they put their mind to it. Consider your child and his accomplishments before choosing a safe place for delicate books.
Distract the baby’s attention from eating books
When you have caught the baby red-handed (nibbling away at books), please make sure to be calm and not scold your child. Gently pry the books out of your baby’s hands and mouth and remind them about reading books. Remind them eating books is hurting them. However, it is equally important for you to distract your baby by showing prints, colors, and textures in the books. Read a few sentences to your baby. Offer a book exchange.
Try an activity which involves use of energy
You can try to involve your baby in activities that require an action similar to ripping or chewing, when your baby seems to be interested in ripping books or chewing on them. If it is the requirement of hands, try offering clay as an option. If your child wants to spend energy, you can give some toy which involves hammering or banging, etc.
Model reading loudly in front of your child
It is important that your baby watches you reading a book. You need to read a physical book in front of your child for him or her to understand that you are reading. When you read an ebook or digital devices, a child does not understand that you are reading. Sometimes read loudly to your child. He may not understand word to word but he is learning the art of reading or picking up the love for literature. This frequent modeling can reduce the chances of your baby eating books.
Check if your baby is hungry and wants to eat a snack
Many times if your baby is hungry you might find him or her nibbling on books or anything that is available nearby. Check to see if your child is hungry and offer a snack. Another time I have seen a baby eating books is when he or she is teething. Offer alternatives for biting like teething rings, frozen foods, etc. Biting offers relief to the itching gums.
Take advantage of any interest you find in your child related to books (even chewing, nibbling, and baby-eating books) so that you can nurture it into a reading habit. Gradually, you can find your child is interested in reading more and more books every day. Reading is a crucial activity for a baby’s brain development. Not only then, but reading is also a very healthy habit for everyone to cultivate.
Happy Reading Folks!!