As a new parent, you’re constantly on the lookout for any signs that your little one is growing and developing as they should. One of the most exciting milestones in your baby’s early years is starting to chew solid foods. However, it can also be confusing and worrying when you notice them sticking their tongue out while chewing. Don’t worry – this behavior is totally normal! In this blog post, we’ll explain everything you need to know about baby chewing tongue so you can relax and enjoy watching your child explore new flavors and textures.
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What is Baby Chewing Tongue?
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When a baby is born, they have a natural reflex to suck and swallow. This reflex helps them to feed and get the nutrients they need to grow.
However, some babies also have a reflex called the Moro reflex, or startle reflex. This reflex can cause them to stick their tongue out and chew on it when they are startled or upset.
The Moro reflex usually goes away on its own after a few months, but some babies continue to chew on their tongues as a way to soothe themselves. This is called tongue thrusting.
Tongue thrusting is not harmful and will usually go away on its own as your child gets older and develops new ways to soothe themselves. However, if you are concerned about your child’s tongue thrusting, speak to your doctor or pediatrician.
Causes of Baby Chewing Tongue
There are a few different reasons why babies might chew on their tongue. It could be a way for them to soothe themselves, since the act of chewing can release endorphins in the brain that have a calming effect. It could also be a way for them to relieve pain if they’re teething or experiencing any other mouth discomfort. In some cases, babies might chew on their tongue because they have an underlying medical condition, such as reflux or allergies. If your baby is constantly chewing on their tongue and it seems to be causing them distress, it’s important to talk to your doctor to rule out any potential health concerns.
Benefits of Baby Chewing Tongue
There are many benefits of baby chewing tongue, including:
- Improves oral motor skills: The action of chewing helps to develop and strengthen the muscles in the mouth, lips and tongue. This can help improve a child’s ability to make various shapes with their mouth for speech sounds and eating.
- Aids in the development of the jaw: Chewing helps to exercise the muscles in the jaw and promote proper alignment of the teeth.
- Reduces teething pain: The act of chewing can help to soothe achy gums and reduce discomfort during teething.
- Helps babies learn about food: Babies can explore different textures and tastes when they chew on food items. This can help them start to develop preferences for certain foods.
- Encourages self-feeding: Baby led weaning is becoming increasingly popular, and chewing is an important skill for self-feeding. Chewing also helps babies transition to solid foods by teaching them how to break down food items into smaller pieces .
- Helps reduce drooling: The act of chewing helps to stimulate the production and movement of saliva, which can help reduce excessive drooling.
- Strengthens gums: Chewing helps to exercise and strengthen the gums, which can help with proper tooth development.
Risks of Baby Chewing Tongue
The most common risk associated with baby chewing tongue is the development of an oral habit. If your baby continues to chew on their tongue, they may develop an oral fixation. This can lead to problems with speech and eating later on in life. Additionally, baby chewing tongue can also cause drooling and gagging. If your baby is constantly drooling or gagging, it’s important to consult with a doctor to rule out any other potential health concerns.
How to Respond When Your Baby Chews Their Tongue
If your baby is chewing their tongue, it’s important to stay calm and respond in a way that will help them feel safe and secure. Here are some tips on how to respond when your baby chews their tongue:
- First, try to understand why your baby is chewing their tongue. Are they teething? Hungry? Bored? Anxious? Once you know the reason behind the behavior, you can better address it.
- If your baby is teething, offer them cool, hard objects to chew on like a teething ring or frozen washcloth. You can also massage their gums with your finger to help relieve discomfort.
- If your baby is hungry, offer them a feeding. If they’re not interested in eating, try something else like playing with a favorite toy or reading a book together.
- If your baby seems bored or anxious, try engaging them in an activity that they enjoy or holding them close for comfort.
- If your baby is still chewing their tongue despite these other strategies, speak to your pediatrician for further advice and guidance.
Treatment Options for Baby Chewing Tongue
If your baby is chewing tongue, it’s important to understand the condition and what treatments are available. Baby chewing tongue is a condition where the baby sucks on their tongue excessively, causing it to become raw and irritated. While this can be a normal part of development, some babies may continue to chew their tongues out of boredom or anxiety. If your baby is having difficulty eating or sleeping due to chewing tongue, there are treatment options available.
The first step in treating baby chewing tongue is to identify the underlying cause. If your baby is chewing their tongue out of boredom, try providing them with more stimulating toys or activities. If your baby is anxious or stressed, discuss the situation with your pediatrician and explore possible solutions such as behavioral therapy.
Once the underlying cause has been addressed, you can begin treating the symptoms of baby chewing tongue. To soothe a sore and raw tongue, give your baby ice chips or popsicles to suck on. You can also apply a topical anesthetic such as teething gel to the affected area. If your baby is having difficulty eating due to chewing tongue, talk to your pediatrician about using a nasogastric tube for feedings. With proper treatment, most babies will recover from chewing tongue and go on to lead happy and healthy lives.
Tips for Reducing the Risk of Baby Chewing Tongue
- Avoid using a pacifier.
- Give your baby plenty of time to breastfeed.
- Use a nipple shield when breastfeeding.
- Be aware of any potential allergies your baby may have.
- Avoid using artificial nipples or bottles.
- Offer your baby a variety of safe, age-appropriate teething toys.
- Distract your baby with music, games, and other activities when they start to chew their tongue or lips.
- Monitor your baby’s mouth care routine and ensure that their teeth are cleaned twice daily with a soft brush.
- Make sure to provide plenty of supervised floor time for your baby to explore and get out some energy safely.
Baby chewing tongue is a common behavior during infancy and should not be a cause for alarm. However, it’s important that parents understand what it is so they can watch out for any signs of distress or discomfort in their baby. If your baby seems to be having difficulty with the reflex, you may need to speak to your doctor about other measures you can take. With the right understanding and awareness, every parent can rest assured that their baby is happy and healthy while they continue growing up.