My Baby Is Chewing His Tongue…Is This Normal?

baby chewing tongue
fancycrave1 / Pixabay

So, you look over and notice your baby is chewing at something. Did you leave some food lying close? What is he chewing? A little investigation ensures and you figure out that your baby is actually chewing his tongue. Yikes! Is that normal? Actually, it’s quite possible that the answer is ‘yes’. In this article we will discuss why your baby is chewing his tongue and what should do when you see this behavior. If you are ready, let’s get started!

Tongue chewing in infants

Yes, it is a little weird, but tongue chewing can be quite normal in infants. There are a number of reasons that it can occur, mostly based on their age. So why exactly does this occur? Does it serve some sort of purpose?

Why do babies chew on their tongues: The first 3 months

If you see a 3 month old or younger baby chewing their tongue, the odds are what you are seeing is something that they aren’t even really conscious of. It’s instinctual. So why? What does it mean? Well, take a note of the time, first. Is it mealtime? If so, it could simply mean that baby is hungry and expects to be eating right about now. It’s also quite likely to be for another reason. Newborn babies are wired with a sucking instinct to ensure proper breastfeeding. Lacking enough motor skills to suck their thumb or to grab a toy to chew on, the tongue becomes a viable option. What you are seeing may look like chewing but it’s actually suction. Importantly, this is also a likely queue that your child would like to eat so you can ease your worry and simply feed the little one.

Why do babies chew on their tongues after 3 months?

tongue chewing in infants
voltamax / Pixabay

If you see your baby chewing on their tongue at say, 5 months, then what is the cause for this? They have more coordination now so why the tongue? Well, with children who are a little older then 3 months there are different reasons involved as to why they are biting their tongues. Reasons such as:

  • Baby might be ready for solid foods – Tongue chewing in toddlers might be a sign that your baby is just about ready or already ready for starting solid foods. Typical signs that this might be the case are if your baby had excellent control of their head and has become adept at sitting up on their own in the high chair. Also, another strong sign is if your baby is showing interest in what’s in yours or other’s plates. This could mean that they are ready to start solid foods so it is definitely worth investigating.
  • Teething reflex – When your baby is teething they are going to want to chew anything and everything accessible. Their tongue is actually quite accessible, as it were, and thus it makes a prime target. Check your baby to see if their gums are getting a little swollen. While this is going to occur mostly in the late stages of teething it is worth looking into. If the gums are red or inflamed then your baby may soon be getting their first tooth!
  • Hey, I have a tongue! – We take it for granted when we are older but for baby, that tongue is new and it moves around! Your baby is going to investigate this, sticking out their tongue, spitting, wiggling it around. It’s only natural, after all, to figure out what that weird thing is in their mouths. If your child is just a little older than 3 months then this is the most likely culprit and absolutely nothing to worry about. Let them go wild and explore!

How to minimize chewing of the tongue

If you find that you are still worried and wish to minimize the behavior, there are plenty of things that you can do to accomplish this. The primary methods are as follows:

  • Keep baby entertained – A toy that they can chew on, some time at the park or on the beach, or even some cartoons might be distraction enough to keep them from chewing. Every baby is different so you will need to experiment to see what works best for yours.

” You will need to experiment to see what works best.”

  • Make sure baby isn’t hungry – Make sure that the behavior isn’t a result of hunger by feeding your baby when you see them chewing on their tongue. While there may be other reasons why your baby is chewing their tongue feeding them is a good first bet and may minimize the behavior if this is the primary cause.
  • Pacifiers are your friend – Give baby a pacifier. It will occupy their time and the reflex for suction will have a focus other than your baby’s tongue. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best so make sure that you give this one a try.

Just remember it’s all normal

Your baby is still getting used to his or her body so what you are seeing is perfectly normal. That said, should the behavior persist well into teething then it might be a good idea to check with your pediatrician. Most likely, your baby is going to stop doing this on their own and before you know it, it will just be a strange little chapter in your developing baby’s life.

3 month old chewing tongue
smpratt90 / Pixabay

In conclusion

You were wondering ‘how come my baby chews his/her tongue’ and we are happy to confirm that it is completely normal. As your child grows there are a number of changes going on in their bodies and they are developing their self-awareness. This is to be expect and is no cause for alarm. If your baby is chewing their tongue, just make sure that they are not hungry and if that doesn’t help, make sure that they are entertained. This should keep the tongue-chewing to a minimum and help you to relax a little. We sih you and your little angel the best!

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