Here’s Why Your Baby Is Sticking Their Tongue Out At You

Sometimes, a baby will rest their tongue between their lips for seemingly no reason at all, while other times, there is a meaning behind it, and in rarer cases, it can be a sign of a health concern.

It is a normal thing for babies to do, and eventually, they should tuck their tongue back into their mouth after they’ve reached a few milestones. Luckily, we have the internet to help us decode the meanings of a baby sticking their tongue out.

It’s A Healthy Part Of Development

baby lying on towel in bed smiling with their tongue out
Photo Credit: Walaa Khaleel / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Walaa Khaleel / Unsplash

Because young babies don’t know how to talk yet, they express themselves solely through mouth movements and sounds.

Babies LOVE to stick their tongues out at you, and it’s a normal, extremely cute part of a baby’s development.

A Way To Play With You

baby smiling with her tongue poking out
Photo Credit: Daniel Thomas / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Daniel Thomas / Unsplash

Many people playfully stick their tongues out when they are playing with babies. The baby begins to imitate those around them, as it’s their first way of playing with their parents.

Through scientific studies, researchers have proven that babies stick their tongues out to imitate the people around them and have fun!

A Natural Reflex

person feeding their young baby with a baby bottle
Photo Credit: Lucy Wolski / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Lucy Wolski / Unsplash

According to Healthline, Babies are born with a strong sucking reflex and instinct for feeding. You may notice that your baby will stick their tongue out if you touch their lips just before bottle time.

Part of this reflex is the tongue-thrust reflex when babies stick their tongues out to prevent themselves from choking and to help latch on for feeding.

Conveying That They Are Not Ready For Solids Yet

baby eating a spoonful of food with a confused expression on his face
Photo Credit: hui sang / Unsplash
Photo Credit: hui sang / Unsplash

Turns out, when you transition to solid food, your baby sticking out their tongue during mealtime can indicate unreadiness for solid food.

A baby is usually read for solid food when they have lost the tongue-thrust reflex and do not automatically push solids out of their mouth with their tongue.

They’re Hungry—Or Full

baby in stroller being fed through a bottle and looking up at the person feeding them
Photo Credit: Rainier Ridao / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Rainier Ridao / Unsplash

Babies are confusing. Not only do they stick out their tongue when they’re hungry, but they also do it to show they don’t want to eat anymore.

To distinguish between the two, parents should pay attention to the baby’s body language. If a child tries to pull away, looks irritated, or even starts crying, it’s a sign that they have already had enough food.

It’s A Habit

baby in mother's arms with their tongue slightly poking out as the mother smiles down at them
Photo Credit: Gift Habeshaw / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Gift Habeshaw / Unsplash

The tongue-sticking reflex typically disappears between four to six months after birth, but some babies continue to stick their tongues out sometimes out of habit.

They may also simply think it feels funny or interesting to push their tongues out of their mouths.

So, It’s Not Usually A Cause For Concern

baby lying in bath with their tongue poking out of their mouth and hair sticking up
Photo Credit: Shalev Cohen / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Shalev Cohen / Unsplash

Sticking the tongue out is not always a cause for concern since it is often due to infant reflexes.

But, if you notice that it’s happening all the time, or your baby is too old to be doing it so much, you might be inclined to call your doctor about it (and rightfully so).

When To Call Your Doctor

lower half of a doctor's body in their lab coat with arms crossed and a stethoscope in their right hand
Photo Credit: Online Marketing / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Online Marketing / Unsplash

If it’s happening ALL the time, notify your child’s doctor. Tongue protrusion at rest can be a sign of low muscle tone. Low muscle tone is prevalent in genetic differences like Down syndrome.

That being said, some babies may have large tongues or small mouths and are perfectly healthy, so it’s best to get a professional’s opinion if you’re concerned!

Importance of Adressing Tongue Protrusion

baby chewing on a wooden block and staring up at the camera
Photo Credit: Colin Maynard / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Colin Maynard / Unsplash

Tongue protrusion in older babies needs to be addressed because it can inhibit the child from moving to solid foods or learning to speak.

However, if you have a younger infant and you love seeing your baby’s cute little tongue, enjoy making all the silly faces you want.