If you’ve been reading here for a while, you probably remember than Rondel has some sensory sensitivities – nothing extreme, but he does tend to want something to lick/chew when he gets anxious, tired, or overwhelmed, and for some time he had just been licking his hands. We were trying to help him get over that habit, for sanitary and social reasons, when I realized that it might be more helpful to give him something to fidget with instead of simply trying to make him stop fidgeting in general. I had noticed that he liked to fidget orally with wooden toys (like unfinished wood blocks) much more than with plastic toys, so I set out to find a wearable wooden fidget for a reasonable price.
This was much harder than I had anticipated.
While there is a large market for wearable chewies/fidgets, the majority are made of food-grade silicone, which I already knew Rondel wouldn’t like enough to use instead of his hands. I looked through site after site until I finally stumbled upon BiteMeBeads, an Etsy store where I could purchase unfinished wood pendants in various shapes, as well as strings and clasps to make my own necklaces out of them. I got two of the silicone pendants just in case (at the very least they’ll be good teethers for the new baby) and two of the wood, and waited anxiously for their arrival.
Well, it has been over a month now and I’m happy to report that the wearable chewies (as Rondel calls them) have been a huge success! Unlike a toy, Rondel can keep this with him while still having both hands free, and it’s less likely to be set down and lost; unlike his hands, they won’t get chapped in the winter, garner him negative attention, or be as likely to spread germs. And for the most part, he has stopped licking his hands and chews on the pendant instead (the fish-shaped one is his favorite). He even told me a couple Sundays ago that one of the girls in his class had told him she liked his fishy chewy – he was pretty happy about that 🙂
So – if anyone has a similar situation with their preschooler, that is my whole-hearted recommendation! Obviously the oral fidgeting was helping him cope with his sensory input or emotional state, and this was a way to adjust that coping strategy to fit a wider range of situations.