27/03/2011 08:24 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Big Mouth For Mummy: When Your Baby Wants To Eat Sand, Gravel And Worse

eating sand The other day, I caught Oscar trying to eat gravel.

I'd left him on the soft, lush lawn and turned away for couple of seconds to retrieve his hat and suncream. When I turned around again, he'd done one of his super fast crawls and was sitting happily in the centre of the graveled drive, preparing to shovel a big fistful of stones into his mouth.

It was spilling down his front, covered in flecks of mud and grass, and he was drooling in excitement and anticipation. With a mother's lightning fast reflexes, I batted his hand away at the last moment, showering the potentially sharp, germ-covered chips everywhere like rain. He grizzled in frustration and attempted the move again immediately. I had to remove him from the area completely in order for him to desist.

This particular battle has been happening more and more frequently of late, and it generally involves me batting and scolding, and him crying in consternation.

I've learnt to be utterly vigilant whenever I put him down somewhere out of the safe zone of our living room, already audited for dangerous and dirty objects.

However, it would seem that preventing him from tasting and ingesting non-food items will be a virtually impossible undertaking as time goes on and as I give him access to explore the world more and more.

I took a straw poll of my other mummy friends and was horrified to hear some of the shudder inducing things that some of their darling children had eaten or put in their mouths.
Nothing is too dirty or dangerous, apparently, for a babe or child intent on exploring and understanding the very nature of something new they see before them. And of course, for a baby, their mouths are the first port of call in this quest.

Sand from the beach or in the sandpit (always double the fun for mummies, as it reappears again, sometime later, in the nappy), crunchy cat food from the kitchen cupboard and dry dog food directly from the dog's bowl on the floor. Nappy bags, dirt from pot plants, garden snails (helpfully proffered for tasting by an older sibling) and dead flies on the windowsill. A washing powder tablet, necessitating a trip to A&E, and an older sister's molar, which had just fallen out – I'm not sure if this was retrieved or if it simply traveled its due course without injury.

But I have to say the two worst things gleefully recounted to me, were, in no particular order – chewing on the toilet brush, and ingesting one of the solid nuggets found in the cat's litter tray! Shudder! And, deep breaths, now, people!

All of the children mentioned here were completely fine afterwards, and it does make me wonder if they really are more robust than we give them credit for. Having said that, it's my duty and responsibility to prevent my baby from eating dirty and dangerous things - but if it happens, it doesn't make me a bad mummy, just one who has yet another thing to feel guilty about!

Rather closer to home, I feel less bad about the gravel incident now, and more than slightly concerned about the fact that our cat is due to arrive in our home soon (after an extended period in quarantine).

Now, just where on earth am I going to put the cat's litter tray!?

What non-food items has your child eaten or tasted? Were they dangerous or dirty? More importantly, was any harm done?