Is Your Baby Sticking Their Tongue Out A Lot? What Does It Mean?

Is Your Baby Sticking Their Tongue Out A Lot? What Does It Mean?

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When you first notice your little one sticking their tongue out, it can catch you off guard. Then, as the day goes on, you might notice them constantly sticking their tongue out. They’ll stop for a moment, and then stick their tongue out again.

There are a few reasons that babies might do this: 

They’re Hungry

Babies are born with several reflexes to help them survive. We’re all familiar with the sucking reflex. Babies also have a tongue thrust reflex. The tongue-thrust reflex helps babies latch onto a nipple.

They stick their tongue out when they are feeding to be able to properly latch onto the nipple of either your breast or bottle. It helps them stay latched on as well. Without this reflex, babies have a hard time eating.

If you notice your baby, especially your newborn, sticking their tongue out, it could be because they are hungry. This is one of the most common reasons that babies start to stick their tongue out. 

Babies Sticking Their Tongue Out To Communicate Other Things

Cute sweet little baby girl having fun on her bed

Babies will begin sticking their tongue out when they are younger as a part of the sucking reflex. However, as babies grow they learn that they can stick their tongue out to communicate quite a few things using this same motion.

Babies do whatever they can to try to communicate, so it actually makes sense that you’ll see a younger baby consistently sticking their tongue out. 

Babies Stick Their Tongue Out When They Are Full

Just like babies use this motion to communicate that they are hungry, they might also use it to communicate that they are full.

If your little one has just finished eating, they might be trying to tell you that they do not want any more. Babies that are done eating might simply continue to stick their tongue out. 

Babies that are still eating will use the tongue thrust motion to help push the nipple out of their mouth. Although it serves the purpose of getting the food away from them because they don’t want it anymore, it is still them communicating that they are full. 

They Want To Play

Newborns and younger babies are not able to move a lot by themselves. They don’t have control over their fine or gross motor skills, which can make it harder for them to play.

That doesn’t mean that they don’t want to play though! Babies are known for sticking their tongue out when they want to play or would like some attention. 

Your Little One Wants To Be Like You

Little ones that see their parents stick their tongue out, like in the famous selfie pose, are more likely to stick their tongue out. This is because they want to be just like their parents/primary caregivers.

If you see your little one stick their tongue out after you stick yours out, it’s because they are imitating you. 

Medical Reasons Result In Baby Sticking Tongue Out

Asian newborn sticking out her tongue

There are some medical reasons that go hand in hand with a little one constantly sticking their tongue out.

Parents that see this behavior frequently are encouraged to keep an eye on their little one to make sure that there is not an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed. 

Babies Sticking Tongue Out Because Of Reflux

If your little one has acid reflux, they might be more likely to stick their tongue out. This is because they are trying to communicate that they are uncomfortable. In addition to that, reflux can cause gagging, which can make them stick their tongue out.

If your little one has reflux, they will show other symptoms of this condition. Other symptoms of reflux include: 

  • Vomiting, especially after eating
  • Gagging
  • Choking
  • Arching their back and sticking out their tongue after eating
  • Fussy after eating
  • Poor eating habits
  • Refusing to eat
  • Colic

These are also symptoms of GERD. If your little one displays these symptoms, contact your pediatrician for assistance. 

Choking

When we choke, we naturally thrust our tongue out of our mouth. Babies do this same thing. It’s because it’s the body’s way of trying to propel whatever is lodged in the throat out of the throat, and out of the mouth. It’s a reflex to choking.

If your baby has something in their throat, but it’s not quite big enough to make them cough or they are unable to cough because the airway is blocked, this can result in them sticking their tongue out. 

Babies that have feeding problems, and are prone to choking, can best be fed laying on their side. Simply lay your little one on their side, with the head on the side, and feed them their bottle.

When you feed them like this, the formula that they do not swallow will slowly leak out of their mouth instead of getting stuck in their throat. 

Down Syndrome

Babies with Down Syndrome are more likely to stick their tongue out. This could be due to several things.

Newborn Baby Boy Sticking out his Tongue

Children that are born with this condition are more likely to have a smaller mouth, which can make it uncomfortable to keep their tongue inside their mouth.

They could also have poor muscle tone, which can lead to them having a hard time holding their tongue inside their mouth.

Mouth breathing is also common in children that have Down Syndrome and can result in them sticking their tongue out of their mouth frequently. 

Most babies are diagnosed with Down Syndrome before they are born or soon after birth. Down Syndrome has several physical symptoms that make it easier to identify than other conditions. These include, but are not limited to: 

  • A single crease on their palm instead of several
  • Smaller than average head
  • Small mouth
  • Small ears
  • Eyes that slant upwards

Some babies have several physical characteristics of this condition, while others only have one or two. Babies with Down Syndrome will have other symptoms that can be noticed later in life, such as cognitive impairment or delayed language development.

Although most babies are diagnosed soon after birth at the latest, there are always exceptions. If you’re concerned that your little one has this condition and has not been diagnosed, call your pediatrician for an evaluation. 

Macroglossia

Macroglossia is a condition that causes the tongue to be larger than normal. Because of this, infants literally cannot keep their tongue in their mouth. There are several different things that can cause macroglossia.

Because this condition can cause problems eating, talking, etc. it is typically corrected via surgery when a child is younger. However, keep in mind that this condition is rare. 

It’s A Normal Part Of Development

Baby with tongue sticking out

If you notice that your little one is suddenly sticking their tongue out a lot, it could be because they are simply developing and discovering as they are supposed to.

As babies grow, they learn new things about the world around them, and about themselves. A part of this will involve sticking their tongue out. 

This Is How They Learn To Move Their Tongue And Mouth

Babies need to learn how to move their tongues so that they can learn how to eat and how to talk. The tongue moves in various ways to push food to the sides of the mouth.

It will also need to move into different positions to help your little one form different sounds, which will eventually turn into words.

Babies start to practice this as they get older by moving their tongues in different positions. One of those positions might be sticking their tongue out. 

This movement is essential to babies learning vital language skills later in life. It also builds the foundation for them to learn to push food to the sides of their mouth for chewing when they begin to eat solid foods. 

They Want To Play With Their Tongue

When a little one first discovers their tongue, it is new and interesting. It has a different texture than their skin.

Babies explore parts of their bodies by moving them, touching them, and seeing what they do. The tongue is no exception. Once your baby learns how to move their tongue, they’ll want to play with it. 

Babies explore things in a variety of ways. This could involve them sticking their tongue out to lick their lips, chin, or cheeks. They might grab their tongue or poke it to see what it feels like.

This is perfectly normal! Babies want to explore everything, including all of their body parts. 

In Conclusion

There are a few medical reasons that can make your baby stick their tongue out. If you’re concerned about these, it’s important to contact your pediatrician.

Aside from those, your little one sticking their tongue out is nothing to worry about. They are just communicating, playing, or developing!

Medical Disclaimer. All content and media on the MomInformed Website is created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.

My name is Amber Dixon. I am a mother to three wonderful children, and recently welcomed a beautiful grandson into the world as well as into my home. I've learned a great deal about raising children through my own experiences as a mother, but also from several other places. While working at a daycare full time, I learned about childhood development, teaching children, and more. Through earning degrees in Social Work, I was educated about human development, including a great deal about children and childhood development. My education and experience combined have taught me a lot about children of every stage and age, and I hope that I can help you on your journey to becoming the best parent that you can be!

My name is Amber Dixon. I am a mother to three wonderful children, and recently welcomed a beautiful grandson into the world as well as into my home. I've learned a great deal about raising children through my own experiences as a mother, but also from several other places. While working at a daycare full time, I learned about childhood development, teaching children, and more. Through earning degrees in Social Work, I was educated about human development, including a great deal about children and childhood development. My education and experience combined have taught me a lot about children of every stage and age, and I hope that I can help you on your journey to becoming the best parent that you can be!