There will undoubtedly come a time when your child will spit up more than you would like (especially if the target is a sibling and not, say, the bathroom sink). But parents of young children may not know that spitting is a skill that can take children years to develop and can interfere with everyday activities like brushing teeth and eating.
“Spitting is a very complex action involving the muscles of the mouth and tongue, exhaling air from the lungs, and a mental awareness of why and when to spit appropriately,” he explains dr Gary Liu, a board-certified pediatric dentist. “Children develop and grow at different rates and schedules, so learning to spit is different for different children.”
Liu says that most children in his practice start spitting up around the age of 3 or 4, although some don’t start as late as 2 years old.
“At this age, they’re becoming more proficient in their sensorimotor functions and actually becoming better at controlling their body movements,” he tells Yahoo Life. “They also understand why we need to spit and when it’s appropriate.”
Regardless of age, it is an important skill that children develop and that needs to be practiced.
Why is spitting important?
When children are to brush their teeth, spitting is important to prevent toothpaste from being swallowed, especially if it contains fluoride. Keep in mind that your child has probably swallowed toothpaste before (and may still do to some extent). While this isn’t generally a cause for concern, it’s still a behavior you should curb before it becomes a habit.
“If fluoride toothpaste is swallowed in small amounts, there is no effect on the body,” says Liu. “However, if a large amount is swallowed in a short period of time, symptoms can be expected [including] Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, taste disturbances, drooling, headache, tremors, weakness or cardiac arrest in extreme cases.” It would be a large amount if a small child swallowed an entire tube of toothpaste.
For children under the age of 3, Liu recommends using a rice-grain-sized smear of fluoridated toothpaste; Children 3 years and older can use a pea-sized dollop.
Outside of brushing your teeth, Dr. Denise Scott, pediatrician and expert with Just answer, notes that spitting is also important when eating. The ability to spit comes in handy when eating something that tastes bad, consuming something too hot, or realizing something just isn’t edible.
How do I get my child to spit?
As with many things, children learn by example. Showing your kids how to spit is one of the best ways to teach them.
“Do it together over the bathroom sink. Even consider dumping some toothpaste in the sink to aim for — or you can try and hit the drain,” advises pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The happiest baby.
In addition, you can start small by introducing other ways not to swallow. Scott recommends starting the child with a small sip of water first. Instead of swallowing it, have it open its mouth to let the water drain out. That way, they can lean over the sink and just let the water drip out, encouraging the idea of not gulping.
You can also make it a little more fun by doing “target practice” or having them aim at something dad and further away to get the idea of power, Scott suggests.
Where should my child spit?
This depends on the situation, but common places are the sink, toilet, trash can, and so on. If it’s an emergency, it’s appropriate to spit somewhere, but for the most part it’s usually done in private.
After learning how to spit, some children take this new skill and use it out of context. For example, when a child is frustrated, they may spit to express their anger. It’s important to clarify that spitting is not a means of communication or a way of expressing one’s feelings and should only be used when brushing teeth or eating.
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https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/when-do-kids-learn-to-spit-140058244.html When do children learn to spit – and why is it important that they do it? Experts intervene