The sight of a newborn sticking out their tongue after breastfeeding can be cute but it becomes discomforting when it happens often. If your newborn sticks their tongue out after feeding and they do this repeatedly, this article is for you. Let’s explore the potential reasons for newborn sticking their tongue out after breastfeeding and find solutions.
It’s important to understand that your feelings towards this habit of your newborn is valid.
In this article, we’ll clarify what’s classified as sticking the tongue out after feeding and we will look at reasons for this as well as what to do and how to manage the situation.
Newborn Sticking Tongue Out After Feeding
Most parents wish to understand why their babies do this. Is this some adorable gesture to smile at or something you should be worry about? Or, is your baby just curious and trying to understand themselves?
Let’s delve into the possible reasons for a newborn sticking their tongue out after breastfeeding to better understand your baby’s cues and expressions. Some of these reasons include:
1. Simple Attempt at Exploration
This often happens after babies have been fed. So it’s likely that you just finished feeding your baby and you are cradling them in your arms. Then they let out their tiny tongue and leave it protruding from their lips. You will notice that after doing this, they may start smiling or staring with more intention. What’s the rationale behind this?
Most times, the newborn is simply just testing their abilities and what they can do with their tongue. Babies have these strong desire to explore their environment and understand things that go on around them. The habit of sticking out their tongue is one of the ways they test their limits and understand how their tongue feels and what they can do with it.
2. Feeling Secure and Content
Another reason newborns stick their tongue out after feeding is to express that they do feel some sense of security and contentment. After newborns have had their meals and they are satisfied, they may feel relaxed and safe in your arms making them extend their tongues out or play with their tongue.
You can chose to see this as a way they express satisfaction just like how adults tend to stretch or sigh after a good, satisfying meal. Sticking the tongue out can be a form of non-verbal communications.
3. Oral Reflexes at Play
Newborns are born with various reflexes that aid their early interactions with the world. The rooting reflex, for example, helps them find the breast for feeding. The tongue-thrust reflex is another important one. This reflex causes babies to push their tongues outward when their lips or cheeks are touched.
After a satisfying feed, your baby might still have this reflex in action, making them to stick their tongue out. Note that It’s not always a function of hunger but just a lingering reflex that will gradually disappear as your baby grows.
Understanding Your Baby’s Unique Quirks
It is important to understand that as much as many babies have this habit of sticking their tongues out, your newborn is unique and different. What’s true for one may not be true for another. Some babies might exhibit this behavior frequently, while others may do it less often.
As parents, you need to pay attention to your baby to understand their needs and what they may be trying to communicate.
If your baby appears healthy, content, and is gaining healthy weight as expected, there’s typically no need to worry about this habit. However, if there are having trouble feeding, not gaining weight as expected, or you observe anything unusual, see a doctor to get appropriate guidance.
Baby Sticking Tongue In and Out Repeatedly
The sight of your baby sticking their tongue in and out repeatedly can be worrisome especially when it’s hard to decipher why they are doing it or what they want. Babies sticking their tongue in and out repeatedly is part of the normal developmental milestone and often not a reason to be disturbed or worried.
In fact, this habit stops with time and there are certain factors that influence how long they continue with this habit. Some of these factors include:
1. Early Months of Life
In the early months of a baby’s life, sticking their tongue out after breastfeeding is normal and often adorable. This behavior can start almost immediately after birth and continues for several months. It’s only a function of their innate need to explore their environment.
2. Developmental Milestones
Around the age of 3 to 6 months, many babies start to gain better control over their tongue and mouth muscles. This is an important developmental milestone. As they improve on their motor skills and coordination abilities, you may notice a decrease in the frequency or consistency of this behavior.
By six months, most babies have gained enough control to keep their tongue inside their mouth more often.
3. Teething and Tongue Exploration
Teething is another phase and this can influence the habit of sticking the tongue out. This phase typically begins around six months, and the discomfort caused by the growing teeth can make babies stick their tongues out more often. This is often a temporary response to the teething process and stops with time.
4. Overstimulation and Self-Soothing
Overstimulation is a common problem babies face and babies can become overstimulated very easily. When they’ve had a lot of sensory input or a very stressful or exciting experience, they might stick their tongue out as a way to self-soothe. This is more common when babies are much younger and haven’t fully developed other self-soothing techniques.
As babies grow and learn to regulate their emotions as well sensory input, this habit occurs less and they no longer rely so much on sticking their tongue out for self-soothing. By the time they reach the age of 6 to 9 months, you’ll likely observe a significant decrease in this habit.
5. Individual Variation
How long babies maintain this habit depends on the individual, and the duration varies widely. Some babies may continue to stick their tongue out for longer periods, while others may stop quite early. Whether your baby stops early or later on should be no cause for worry, but rather a way to understand your baby’s unique journey.
When to Seek Help
Babies sticking their tongue out can be cute and comforting for babies as well as their parents but there are situations where you should seek medical attention. Some of these situations include:
1. Excessive Drooling and Tongue Protrusion
If your baby is sticking their tongue out to the point of excessive drooling and it appears like its a source of discomfort for them, see a healthcare professional to be sure there are no underlying problems.
2. Other Developmental Concerns
If your baby keeps sticking their tongue out repeatedly month after month with no decrease and there are developmental delays, see your pediatrician.
3. Past the First Year
While it’s normal for infants to exhibit this behavior during their early months, it should become less frequent as they grow. If your toddler continues to stick their tongue out excessively past the age of one, seek medical guidance.
Read Also: Why Does My Baby Shake When Excited?
Reasons For Newborn Sticking Tongue Out After Breastfeeding
Aside reasons such as exploration and developmental milestones as stated above, there are other reasons why newborns may be sticking out their tongue repeatedly after breastfeeding. These reasons include:
Baby Sticking Tongue Out Down Syndrome
When newborns continuously stick their tongues out after breastfeeding, there are fears of the possibility that it may be due to down syndrome.
Down syndrome is a genetic condition that has effects on a child’s physical and intellectual development. This genetic disorder can be observed through some facial features as well as muscle tone issues.
Babies who have down syndrome are often prone to bringing out their tongues, a manifestation regarded as tongue protrusion. This is why parents need to have their newborns examined by a pediatrician once they notice this. It’s important to remember that not all newborns who stick their tongues out have down syndrome as this is a common habit.
Baby Sticking Tongue Out Reflux
Reflux is another common reason for newborns to stick out their tongues after breastfeeding. Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) happens when the contents of the stomach flow back into the esophagus, leading to discomfort and sometimes pain.
Newborns with reflux may use tongue extension as a way to self-soothe and manage the burning sensation caused by the acid. If you suspect that your baby’s tongue extension habit is related to reflux, consult a pediatrician. This will help you have all the information you need and guidance on how to help ease your baby’s discomfort.
Sometimes, babies may have difficulty latching onto the breast or bottle. When this happens, they tend to stick out their tongue in a bid to adjust their position and feed better. This could be related to tongue-tie or other oral motor issues so have your healthcare provider examine the situation.
The nose is the primary way infant breathe. If they have nasal congestion or other breathing difficulties, they might use tongue protrusion as an alternative way to breathe through the mouth.
Conclusion on: Reasons For Newborn Sticking Tongue Out After Breastfeeding
It’s normal to find babies’ habit of sticking out their tongue cute and then worrisome when they stick their tongue in and out repeatedly. This is most times, nothing to worry about as the habit fizzles out with time. However, it’s best to have your baby see a doctor to be carefully examined and rule out other more serious causes of the habit.