You’re watching your precious bundle of joy with admiration and love when you notice your baby’s mouth moving furiously — your baby is chewing her tongue!
Why is my baby chewing her tongue?
This might sound like a silly, off-the-wall question, but a baby chewing tongue habit is a very real thing.
Before you run to the phone, dial your baby’s pediatrician, and ramble off a million questions about whether or not your baby is going to bite her tongue off, take a deep breath and relax.
Babies do sometimes “chew” their tongues but in most cases, it’s not actually “chewing” at all and is not typically something to be concerned with — other than the fact that strangers might think you let your little one chew gum.
- Why do babies chew their tongues?
- Is tongue chewing a sign of teething in babies?
- Is baby tongue chewing normal?
Why Do My Baby Chewing Tongue?
Let’s face it.
Babies are weird — cuddly and absolutely adorable, but weird. Depending on the age of your child, there are several reasons why a baby might “chew” on his tongue like on the video below:
This is a rather common behavior and is often observed between four and six months of age. However, in some cases, it may start earlier.
For newborns, this “chewing” motion might not actually be chewing at all. It could actually be a suckling reflex. This natural reflex allows a baby to nurse from her mother’s breast.
Sometimes, babies mimic this action during sleep and it may appear that he is biting, chewing, or sucking on his tongue.
Some parents find that their baby starts chewing the tongue close to feeding time. If that’s the case, then it’s likely a suckling reflex.
As babies begin to grow, they become orally-fixated, which means that they begin exploring the world with their mouths.
Not only will an infant chew on his fingers, put his toes in his mouth, blow “raspberries” or roll his tongue, but he may also begin “chewing” on his tongue. This is simply a way of exploring and getting to know the world around him.
Baby chewing tongue could also be that your little one has just discovered her tongue! This seemingly simple discovery will lead to many others and can even be considered an important milestone in your baby’s development.
You might notice that in addition to tongue chewing, your baby will make different facial expressions and make new sounds. For some infants, it could be the first indication that teeth are about to start sprouting.
Alternatively, your baby might be chewing her tongue as a self-soothing technique. While it sounds strange, it’s a common occurrence.
In many cases, it may even become habitual and could continue well into the childhood years. Fortunately, it is little cause for concern and rarely causes any lasting issues.
Is Tongue Chewing a Sign of Teething in Babies?
Teething is never fun for mother or child, but when you add in tongue chewing, it becomes even more worrisome, especially if you’ve never seen your child chew his tongue before.
This “tongue chewing” motion could be a way to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with teething.
If your baby is cutting teeth, she might start rubbing her teeth with her tongue, sucking in her lips, drooling excessively, putting everything in her mouth, or even “chewing” her tongue.
When it comes to eating, both babies and adults require more than just their teeth. Tongues are used to taste, move food around, and even swallow.
In fact, the tongue plays one of the most important roles in chewing and swallowing. When a baby starts “chewing” their tongue, it shows that they’ve discovered the tongue.
This is the first step to eating from a spoon. It won’t be an easy, clean experience — it will be quite messy — but it’s a huge milestone for your little one.
He likely won’t be able to swallow much during the first few tries, but that’s only because he doesn’t fully understand how the tongue works just yet. Be patient, keep trying, and he’ll figure it out.
If your baby is experiencing discomfort or pain with their teeth or gums, know that there are many oral products available for babies that helps numb the gums and help with oral pain associated with teething.
If the teething pain seems excessive, talk to your child’s pediatrician. He or she might be able to offer other options for teething pain or baby tongue chewing.
Is Baby Tongue Chewing Normal?
Baby chewing tongue is totally normal if it is related to any of the reasons listed above. There is usually no cause for concern in most cases.
In some rare cases, however, baby tongue chewing can be a sign of a more serious problem, especially if it interferes with breathing or feeding.
Also, if tongue chewing is causing your baby to draw blood or cause himself pain, then you’ll want to speak with your pediatrician.
Finally, if your child has been chewing his tongue for a while, you may want to speak to a pediatric dentist regarding the tongue chewing to be sure it’s not having an effect on your baby’s gums, teeth, or bite.
In general, baby tongue chewing is nothing to be worried about.
Whether it’s a result of suckling, reflex, oral fixation, self-soothing, or teething, it’s an absolutely normal occurrence that many mothers have gone through with their little ones.
If you’re still concerned, be sure to bring it up with your pediatrician.
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Video credits: Nicky Sissi.