Why Your Baby May Be Sticking Their Tongue Out

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Every parent has found their little baby sticking out their tiny tongue from time to time and found it absolutely adorable. I mean how could you not? But they also get concerned about if their baby is trying to communicate with them through this behavior. Is it because they are ill? Are they hurt? Did they bite their tongue with their new teeth or are they just being silly? Parents of newborns tend to over analyze everything their little one ones and for good measure. It turns out that babies stick their tongues out as a way to interact with the world and express their needs. If you want to know more about what this gesture could indicate, read on!

1. They Might Be Hungry

They Might Be Hungry

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Babies have a strong sucking reflex that they need in order to feed and sticking out their tongue may be a telltale sign that it might be time to eat (again). Babies don’t immediately start crying when they are hungry. Instead, they try to give their parents more subtle hints to pick up on. They may try putting their hands in their mouth, smacking their lips together, moving towards the bottle or your breasts and sticking their tongue out. It is important to keep an eye out for these gestures as they are the only way in which your infant can communicate their needs to you. So, sticking their tongue out may just be an instinct your baby has for eating!

2. They Are Full

They Are Full

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Food coma alert! If your baby is in the process of eating or has just eaten, they may stick out their tongue to indicate that they are full and want to stop eating now. It’s part of that content food coma look that your baby gets after a nice long feeding session. But how do you distinguish between your baby being hungry and your baby being content if they employ the same gesture for both scenarios? Study their body language. If your baby tries to pull away, looks irritated, or even starts crying, it’s a sign that they have already had enough food.

3. They Are Just Playing

They Are Just Playing

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Like we mentioned before, meantime’s your baby just wants to be silly and have fun with you. Sticking their tongue out is one way to accomplish that. Keep in mind that babies imitate the facial expressions of the people around them from an early age. So if you’ve already shown them this gesture they may think of it as a game and mimic you when they are feeling playful. They want to engage with you and the world around them. Encourage them to do so. Remember, these interactions are a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your baby and promote intimacy.

4. They May Be Breathing Through Their Mouth

They May Be Breathing Through Their Mouth

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Babies, just like adults, usually inhale and exhale from their noses. But in some situations, for example, when a baby has caught a cold or has large tonsils, they may breathe through their mouth out of necessity. As a result of doing this, they stick their tongue out. If you notice that your baby has been breathing irregularly or has any problems with breathing or is making unusual sounds it is best to consult your doctor immediately. With a little medication your baby will be right as rain and their tongue won’t stick out anymore!

5. They Are Not Ready To Start Eating Solid Foods

They Are Not Ready To Start Eating Solid Foods

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Pediatricians recommend that you start feeding your baby solid foods after they have reached 6 months of age. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that your baby is ready to get solids by that time. Some babies take longer than others to take a step towards this drastic change in diet and that’s perfectly okay! One way of figuring out that you may need to play the waiting game with your little one for a while longer is to see if they are sticking their tongue out to push the food away and out of their mouth. This instinct prevents a baby from choking on food if their oral coordination is still not good enough to eat solids. However, if your baby is constantly refusing to eat solid foods in the months to come it is best to consult a doctor in order to eliminate any health issues that may arise.

Trying to figure out why exactly your baby is doing something or not doing something can drive even the most level headed parent mad. But this doesn’t need to be the case for when they stick their tongue out. We hope this article shed some light on why your little one may do this gesture and how you can respond to them. So, has your baby ever stuck their tongue out for any of the reasons listed above? Let us know in the comments!

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Kezia John

Kezia holds a deep interest in writing about women adapting to motherhood and childcare. She writes on several topics that help women navigate the joys and responsibilities of being a new mom and celebrate every stage of their baby's development. When she is not writing for MomJunction, she sings in a classical Western choir and reads endlessly.