It is exciting to watch your little one grow up every single day and learn new things every day. But together with that excitement, you have more things to worry about.
Your baby starts to communicate, make faces and expressions that you have no idea of.
One day you notice something, your baby is chewing his tongue! Why is my baby chewing his tongue? What does it mean? Why does it happen? Is it something you have to worry about? Is there anything you can do about it?
Hundreds of questions immediately pop out in your head when you see anything different about your baby.
We will tackle every single question you have, one at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
Below are 7 surprising reasons why your baby chews his tongue and what to do about it.
Baby chewing tongue: is it normal?
Strangely, this is a quite common behavior in babies and parents often see it when their babies are between 4 and 6 months old.
For infants, it can look like they are chewing their tongues, but remember they have no teeth! Or at least, not visible yet. This is more like a suckling reflex that helps your little one to nurse.
Very often, babies mimic that reflex while sleeping. If it happens when it is around feeding time, then it is very likely a suckling reflex.
When your baby starts growing up, he will love to explore the world with his mouth. It means he will love to taste everything, from the fingers to the toys, to the papers, to the bed. Literally everything!
Imagine when you are so curious about the world, and you just discovered you have something inside your mouth, i.e, your tongue, let’s explore that thing first!
Normally, this behavior will discontinue as your baby grows up and discovers more things. So it will often stop itself without your intervention.
Baby chewing tongue: 7 causes
Baby feels hungry while sleeping
When feeling hungry while sleeping, the baby will have natural actions such as smacking, sucking, opening the mouth, sucking fingers... moreover, the baby may cry to ask for a feed.
During growth spurts, babies need to feed more often and for longer. At this time, due to the feeling of wanting to breastfeed more, the baby chews his mouth to meet the increased demand of the body, not because less breast milk makes the baby hungry.
Not getting enough sleep
Children who do not sleep enough are tired, bored, stressed, leading to sucking, smacking ... or simply this is just a habit of the baby.
Gastroesophageal reflux is a condition in which food in the stomach backs up, causing the baby to spit up, even vomit.
It is fairly common in infants, but as your child gets older, the symptoms will become milder.
Associate sleep with breastfeeding
If your baby frequently falls asleep during feedings, he may be associating sleep with breastfeeding. Therefore, babies often chew their mouths when they are sleepy. This can make you mistakenly believe that your baby is hungry.
Having problems with oral thrush
Baby chewing mouth is accompanied by some symptoms such as lazy suckling, anorexia, sore throat, even vomiting ... High probability that the child has oral thrush.
Usually, baby teeth begin to erupt around 6 months of age. When the baby is teething, the gums are itchy, the baby will smack the tip of his mouth to relieve the itching.
Time for solid food
Most babies can start solids by the time they are 6 months old.
While a baby's pout is not the only nor the most important sign that a baby is ready for solid foods, it is part of overall development.
The main signs that your baby is ready for solid foods are:
Babies can sit and keep their heads straight.
Your baby seems curious about the food you are eating.
Baby no longer has a tongue thrust reflex.
What you can do to stop your baby from chewing his tongue
While it is often normal and will disappear as your baby grows up, if your baby chewing tongue causes him some discomfort, you can do something to help reduce this habit.
Use a pacifier
Use a pacifier for your baby to latch on and self-soothe if you are concerned. Always an effective method.
However, regularly giving your baby a pacifier for older children (over 2 years old) will not be good for teeth.
Feed your baby on a schedule
Babies who suckle less and sleep more may oversleep and miss feedings. Therefore, you should actively feed your baby on time. This also helps the baby to form good eating habits, less crying for feeding while sleeping.
Correct position while breastfeeding
Correct your posture while breastfeeding and help the baby latch on to the nipple properly. Let your baby decide when to end a feeding. This will limit the baby's mouth chewing.
Feed your baby from both sides during each feeding
You should feed your baby from both sides at each feeding. When your baby slows down on the first breast, you switch to another side. This is to make sure he can get the best nutrition from both early and late milk so that he won’t be hungry.
Final Words on Baby Chewing Tongue
It is not abnormal that your baby starts chewing his tongue when he reaches a few months old. Don’t panic just yet, this is a mark of another milestone in his development.
This habit will disappear as he grows up, but make sure you ask a doctor if it lasts too long, or it causes your baby discomfort.