You must have come across a nursing mother with her baby sticking out its tongue. The next question most people ask is, why do babies stick their tongue out? We will look at some of the reasons.
Why do babies stick their tongue out?
Most nursing mothers find it difficult to understand why their babies stick their tongues out. Some women wonder if the behavior is normal or whether their baby is sick. The truth is, there are different ways babies can use their mouth. Sticking out the tongue is normal behavior for babies.
The two qualities of babies are instinct to feeding and a strong sucking reflex. Babies are born with these instincts. Among the reflexes is the tongue-thrust reflex. During this reflex, babies stick out their tongue for two main reasons. The first reason is to prevent the baby from choking during breastfeeding. Again, it also ensures that your baby grasps firmly unto the nipple.
It is important to note that it is very common for babies to put things into their mouth, giggle, and stick their tongues out. Their first experience in the world is using their mouth. Sticking out their tongues is, therefore, part of a feeding instinct and also a way of exploring the world around them.
Sticking out the tongue is very normal for babies. During teething and spitting up, babies might also stick out their tongue. However, when it becomes too much, then it might be a sign of something else. You should inform your doctor.
The question, “why do babies stick their tongue out?” has different answers. We will look at some of the most important reasons why this happens.
Below are the different reasons that can make babies stick out their tongues.
Babies can playfully stick out their tongue
Since the 1970s, there have been a lot of debates concerning the ability of babies to imitate adult behaviors. Older babiesimitate adult behavior. However, recent studies have also shown that even babies who are just a few weeks old can imitate adult facial expression.
Babies stick out their tongue when they are hungry
Most nursing mothers only notice their baby is hungry when they begin to cry. However, they fail to notice the early sign, which is sticking out the tongue. Some of the early signs that your baby is hungry include
- Inserting their hands into their mouth
- Clenching their hands
- Licking or smacking the lips
- Turning towards the breasts
Inversely, when sucking, babies can also stick out their tongue when they are full. Other signs of fullness include spitting, turning away from the breast, and refusal to suck.
Babies with a small mouth stick out their tongue
Some babies have a small mouth as a result of genetic factors. Some syndromes or health conditions can make a baby’s mouth very small. Conditions such as micrognathia may occur genetically or sometimes as a part of other conditions like Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, cleft palate, and other kinds of syndromes.
Down syndrome can also cause children to have a very small mouth, decrease in muscle tone, and short stature. Children with Down syndrome also have distinctive facial characteristics. They can also stick out their tongue more often than usual.
DiGeorge syndrome is also a condition that can lead to smallmouth in babies. It is also a condition that can be responsible for changes in the shape of their palate.
Babies with a large tongue stick out their tongue
Macroglossia is a condition that occurs when there is the presence of abnormal blood vessels or muscle in the tongue. It leads to the development of a large tongue in babies. Macroglossia may make a baby stick out his/her tongue more often.
Babies may stick out their tongue if they are tasting solid food for the first time
Most pediatricians recommend adding solid food to a baby’s diet after exclusive breastfeeding for six months. It is advisable to start small, then increase the quantity slowly. While most babies readily adapt to solid foods, others don’t like it. Babies who are not ready for solid foods may stick out their tongue to push out the food. As a nursing mother, when you notice this, don’t force the baby to take solid food. Allow up to two weeks and then try again.
Afterthought on Why do babies stick their tongue out
It is vital to note that in most cases, it is very natural for babies to stick out their tongue. It can also be a part of their development process. However, it is also crucial to watch out how often the baby sticks out his tongue. Sticking out the tongue too often than usual can be a result of other underlying health factors.
When you notice that the tongue thrusting has become a little more than usual, speak to a Pediatrician. He will further examine your baby to figure out if the tongue-sticking is normal. If there are other underlying factors, he will let you know and offer medical advice.