Understanding Why Babies Always Have Their Tongue Out

why is babies tongue always out

As a parent or caregiver of a baby, you may notice that your little one frequently sticks their tongue out. While this behavior can be perplexing or even concerning, it is typically not a cause for alarm. In fact, babies sticking their tongues out is a common and normal part of their development.

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind babies sticking their tongues out, including potential causes and factors contributing to this behavior. By understanding the significance of tongue posture and movement in babies, you can better support your infant’s oral health and development.

Key Takeaways:

  • Babies sticking their tongues out is usually a normal part of development.
  • Understanding the reasons behind this behavior can help parents and caregivers support their infant’s oral health.
  • Tongue posture and movement in babies play crucial roles in feeding, swallowing, and speech development.
  • Issues like tongue tie or abnormal tongue posture can impact breastfeeding success and overall oral health.
  • Early intervention for tongue thrust and abnormal tongue posture can have long-term benefits for a child’s oral health and speech development.

Tongue Thrust in Babies: An Instinctive Reflex

As a parent or caregiver of an infant, you may have noticed that your baby has a tendency to stick their tongue out. This behavior is completely normal and is a result of a natural reflex known as tongue thrust.

Tongue thrust is an instinctive reflex that all babies are born with. When an object or substance touches the baby’s lips, their tongue automatically pushes forward and protrudes from their mouth. This reflex helps protect the infant from choking and ensures that they can effectively breastfeed or bottle-feed.

While tongue thrust is an innate reflex, it is also a crucial aspect of a baby’s oral development. The tongue movements involved in tongue thrusting play a significant role in the formation of facial muscles and the development of the jaw.

It is important to note that tongue thrust is only present in infants and should disappear by the age of 6 months. If the reflex persists beyond this age, it may be a sign of an underlying issue that requires further evaluation and intervention.

Tongue Thrusting and Infant Development

As mentioned earlier, tongue thrusting is fundamental to the development of an infant’s oral and facial muscles. Through the natural reflex of tongue thrust, babies exercise their tongue muscles, which helps them develop the strength necessary for speaking and swallowing.

Furthermore, tongue thrusting is crucial in the prevention of several oral health issues, including speech problems, malocclusions, and dental problems. When the tongue thrust reflex activates, the tongue pushes against the palate, ensuring proper growth and development of the upper jaw. This movement also prevents the tongue from taking up excess space in the mouth, which can influence teeth placement and alignment.

Signs of Abnormal Tongue Thrusting in Babies

While tongue thrusting is normal in infants, certain signs may indicate that there is an issue. If your baby continues to exhibit tongue thrusting after the age of 6 months or shows other signs of oral motor dysfunction, such as difficulty with breastfeeding or speech development, it is crucial to seek medical advice.

Abnormal tongue thrusting may indicate issues such as tongue tie or other underlying medical conditions that require intervention. Working with healthcare professionals, such as pediatricians and speech therapists, can help address these issues early on and promote your baby’s optimal oral health and development.

Tongue Posture in Newborns: Early Developmental Patterns

As a newborn, your baby’s tongue posture plays a crucial role in their oral development. Understanding the different tongue positions in infants can help parents and caregivers promote healthy tongue function and overall well-being.

Tongue Positioning

Newborns typically exhibit two tongue positions:

  1. Rest Position: Your baby’s tongue is at the bottom of their mouth, behind their lower gum line. This position allows for easy breathing and facilitates proper jaw and tooth development.
  2. Feeding Position: In this position, your baby’s tongue cups around the nipple or bottle, sealing off the back of their mouth to prevent milk or formula from escaping. This position is crucial for successful feeding and swallowing.

Tongue Positioning and Infant Development

The position of the tongue in newborns can impact their overall oral development. Incorrect tongue posture can lead to issues such as tongue tie, which can affect breastfeeding and speech development. Proper tongue function is necessary for the following developmental milestones:

  • Successful breastfeeding and proper nutrition intake
  • Facilitating muscle development in the face and neck
  • Promoting proper alignment of teeth and jaw
  • Contributing to the development of speech and language skills

Helping Your Baby Maintain Proper Tongue Posture

Encouraging your baby to maintain proper tongue posture can be a simple but effective way to support their development. To promote healthy tongue function, try the following:

  • Practice proper latch and feeding techniques to ensure your baby is using the correct tongue posture during feeding.
  • Facilitate tummy time to promote proper neck and head muscle development.
  • Consult with a healthcare professional if you suspect your baby may have tongue tie or other tongue-related issues.

By understanding the importance of tongue posture in newborns, you can help support your baby’s oral development and promote overall health and well-being.

Tongue Movement in Babies: Exploring Functionality

The movement of your baby’s tongue goes beyond just sticking it out. In fact, the tongue’s movements play a significant role in feeding, swallowing, and speech development.

During feeding, your baby’s tongue moves in a rhythmic pattern to draw milk from the breast or bottle. The tongue’s movement helps create a vacuum, which enables your baby to swallow. As your baby grows, their tongue movement becomes more refined, allowing them to consume different textures of food.

Similarly, tongue movements are essential for speech development. The tongue works in conjunction with other oral muscles to form sounds and words. As your baby learns to speak, their tongue develops more intricate movements that allow for clearer articulation.

However, in some cases, your baby’s tongue movements can be abnormal, leading to issues such as tongue thrust. This occurs when the tongue pushes forward against the front teeth during swallowing or at rest, leading to an open bite or misaligned teeth.

If you notice your baby’s tongue frequently protruding from the mouth or have concerns about their tongue’s functionality, it is essential to seek professional advice from a healthcare provider, such as a speech therapist or pediatrician. Early intervention can help address any issues and ensure optimal oral and speech development for your baby.

Tongue Position and Breastfeeding Difficulties

Proper tongue positioning is essential for successful breastfeeding. If a baby’s tongue is not in the correct position, they may have difficulties latching on to the nipple, which can impact their ability to receive adequate nutrition. One common issue that can affect tongue positioning is newborn tongue tie.

Newborn tongue tie, or ankyloglossia, occurs when a baby’s tongue is tethered to the bottom of their mouth by a tight band of tissue. This can prevent the tongue from moving freely and may affect the baby’s ability to breastfeed effectively. Symptoms of tongue tie may include difficulty latching, poor weight gain, and a clicking sound during nursing.

If you suspect that your baby has tongue tie, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional. A pediatrician, lactation consultant, or speech therapist can assess your baby’s tongue posture and provide advice on appropriate treatment.

Remember, tongue tie is a common issue that affects many newborns. Seeking early intervention can help ensure successful breastfeeding and prevent potential complications.

In some cases, exercises and stimulation techniques may be recommended to improve the baby’s tongue muscle strength and coordination. These exercises can help promote proper tongue positioning and facilitate successful breastfeeding.

If your baby is struggling with breastfeeding, it is important to seek professional guidance and support. By addressing tongue posture and related issues early on, you can help ensure your baby’s optimal health and development.

Tongue Thrusting and Speech Development

As we discussed earlier, tongue thrust is a natural reflex in babies that causes their tongues to push forward and protrude from their mouths. This reflex has significant implications for speech development.

The tongue thrust reflex is one of the first steps towards the development of speech and helps babies learn how to swallow, suck, and eventually chew solid foods. As they grow and start to form words, the tongue thrust reflex becomes more refined and turns into more deliberate tongue movements.

However, if the tongue thrust reflex persists beyond a certain age, it can interfere with a child’s speech development. This can manifest in a variety of speech disorders, such as lisps, stuttering, and difficulty pronouncing certain sounds.

Speech therapists often work with children who exhibit persistent tongue thrusting to help them retrain their tongues and develop proper articulation and speech patterns.

If you notice your child exhibiting persistent tongue thrusting or speech difficulties, it’s essential to seek the advice of a healthcare professional, such as a pediatrician or speech therapist. Early intervention is key to addressing any issues and promoting optimal speech development.

Tongue Thrust Remediation Techniques

If your baby’s tongue thrust reflex persists beyond a certain age, it may require intervention. While it is normal for babies to display tongue thrusting behavior, if it continues beyond four to six months of age, it can impede proper feeding and speech development.

If you notice persistent tongue thrusting in your infant, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the cause and receive guidance on remediation techniques. Below are some common strategies used to address tongue thrust:

  • Oral motor exercises: Specific exercises focus on strengthening the tongue muscles and improving coordination between the tongue and other oral structures. These exercises may include blowing bubbles, tongue depressor exercises, and sucking on a straw.
  • Tongue positioning techniques: These techniques involve retraining the tongue to rest in a proper position, which can be achieved with the help of a speech therapist or an orofacial myofunctional therapist (OMT).
  • Myofunctional therapy: OMT specifically addresses the muscles of the face and mouth. The therapist will work with your infant to improve tongue posture and other oral functions.
  • Tongue appliances: As a last resort, a healthcare professional may recommend a tongue appliance to help train the tongue to rest in its proper position. This can be an effective solution in severe cases, but it is essential to carefully consider the long-term impact and potential risks before pursuing this option.

Working with a healthcare professional to address tongue thrusting in infants can be an effective way to prevent potential feeding and speech issues down the line. With early intervention and consistent application of remediation techniques, your baby can develop healthy tongue posture and support optimal oral function.

Tongue Posture and Dental Health

The position of the tongue in newborns is crucial for their oral development and can also impact their dental health. A proper tongue posture ensures that the upper jaw and teeth develop correctly and align properly, preventing future bite issues.

During breastfeeding, a baby’s tongue should rest on the lower gumline, allowing for proper latching and efficient milk transfer. If the tongue is not in the correct position, it may cause nipple discomfort for the mother and difficulty for the baby to extract milk.

Research has shown that tongue thrust, where the tongue pushes forward during swallowing, can lead to dental problems such as an open bite and improper alignment of the teeth. This is because the tongue exerts force on the developing teeth, causing them to move and shift out of position. Correcting tongue thrust early on can prevent these issues from occurring.

Moreover, tongue positioning can also influence the development of the facial muscles, jaw, and airways. A proper tongue posture can prevent sleep apnea and other breathing difficulties by ensuring that the airway is open and unobstructed.

Preventing Dental Issues with Proper Tongue Posture

Parents can encourage proper tongue posture in their infants by ensuring that the baby’s tongue rests on the lower gumline during feeding and that they latch correctly. Additionally, implementing tongue exercises and stimulation techniques recommended by healthcare professionals can help strengthen the tongue muscles and promote proper function.

Avoiding the use of pacifiers and bottles for prolonged periods can also prevent the tongue from resting in an incorrect position, as they can encourage tongue protrusion and improper swallowing patterns.

Tongue PostureImplications for Dental Health
Proper Tongue PosturePrevents dental problems such as an open bite and misaligned teeth. Supports the development of the facial muscles, jaw, and airways, preventing breathing difficulties.
Incorrect Tongue PostureCan lead to dental problems such as an open bite and misaligned teeth and can cause sleep apnea and other breathing difficulties.

Proper tongue posture, which can be achieved through early intervention and correct feeding techniques, is crucial for your baby’s long-term oral and overall health. Consult with healthcare professionals if you are concerned about your baby’s tongue posture or notice any issues such as persistent tongue protrusion.

Medical Conditions and Tongue Protrusion

While babies sticking their tongues out is usually a normal part of their development, there are instances where medical conditions may contribute to a persistent tongue protrusion. Here are some potential underlying factors:

Potential medical conditionDescription
Tongue-tieA congenital condition where the lingual frenulum, the thin membrane connecting the tongue’s underside to the floor of the mouth, is shorter and tighter than usual. This can restrict tongue movement and affect a baby’s ability to breastfeed, swallow, and speak.
Neurological disordersCertain neurological disorders, such as cerebral palsy or Down syndrome, can cause low muscle tone and affect the tongue’s natural position and movement. This can lead to a protruding tongue and impact feeding and speech development.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)A digestive disorder where stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing discomfort and regurgitation. Infants with GERD may stick their tongues out as a way of relieving the discomfort and protecting their airways.

If you notice persistent tongue protrusion or have concerns about your baby’s oral development, it’s essential to speak with a healthcare professional. They can help diagnose any underlying medical conditions and suggest appropriate interventions to support your baby’s growth and well-being.

When to Seek Medical Advice

While it is common for babies to have their tongues out, persistent tongue protrusion may be a sign of an underlying issue. If your baby’s tongue is always sticking out, it may be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Newborn tongue tie
  • Health conditions such as Down syndrome or cerebral palsy
  • Structural abnormalities in the mouth or jaw
  • Dental problems

If you notice any of the following symptoms or concerns, it is important to seek medical advice:

  • Your baby is having difficulty breastfeeding or latching
  • Your baby is not gaining weight or is losing weight
  • Your baby has trouble sticking out their tongue or moving it side to side
  • Your baby is not meeting their developmental milestones
  • The tongue protrusion persists beyond six months of age

Your pediatrician or a specialist can examine your baby and determine if there is an underlying issue causing the tongue protrusion. Early intervention is essential to address any potential problems and ensure proper oral and speech development. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about your baby’s tongue posture and development.

Strategies for Encouraging Correct Tongue Posture

Encouraging proper tongue posture in your baby can be beneficial for their oral health, feeding, and speech development. Here are some strategies you can use to promote healthy tongue positioning in your infant:

  1. Pay attention to your baby’s latch: During breastfeeding, make sure your baby’s tongue is positioned correctly to ensure a proper latch. Check that their lips are flanged outward and their tongue is underneath the nipple.
  2. Use a pacifier: Sucking on a pacifier can help your baby practice correct tongue posture and strengthen their tongue muscles. Just make sure not to overuse it.
  3. Practice tongue exercises: Simple tongue exercises, such as sticking out your tongue and moving it from side to side, can help promote tongue muscle strength and coordination in your baby.
  4. Encourage oral exploration: Allow your baby to explore different textures with their mouth, such as soft blankets or teething toys. This can help develop their oral muscles and improve tongue posture.
  5. Consult with a professional: If you’re having difficulty promoting proper tongue posture in your baby, consider consulting with a lactation consultant or speech therapist. They can provide personalized guidance and support for your baby’s specific needs.

By incorporating these strategies into your daily routine, you can help ensure your baby develops healthy tongue posture and a strong foundation for optimal oral health and speech development.

Importance of Early Intervention

As a parent or caregiver, it is essential to recognize that early intervention for tongue-related concerns is crucial for your baby’s oral health and overall well-being. If you notice that your baby’s tongue is constantly protruding, it could be a sign of an underlying issue that requires immediate attention.

When you seek medical advice early on, you can identify any potential problems and address them proactively. This can prevent future complications such as difficulties with feeding, speech development, and dental issues like malocclusion.

Some parents may be hesitant to seek professional evaluation for fear of overreacting or assuming that their baby’s condition will resolve on its own. However, it is always better to err on the side of caution and seek guidance from a healthcare professional.

Remember that early intervention is key to ensuring that your baby reaches their developmental milestones optimally. By taking action early on, you can help your baby achieve proper tongue posture, muscle strength, and coordination, which will benefit them in the long run.

The Importance of Seeking Expert Guidance

Working with healthcare professionals who specialize in tongue-related concerns can provide invaluable support for parents and caregivers. Pediatricians can diagnose potential medical conditions and refer you to specialists like lactation consultants and speech therapists who can help you manage feeding difficulties and promote healthy speech development.

With the guidance of healthcare professionals, you can develop a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses your baby’s specific needs. This plan may include exercises and stimulation techniques to improve tongue muscle strength, dietary modifications, and other interventions tailored to your baby’s unique situation.

Remember that every baby is different, and no two cases of tongue protrusion are the same. Seeking expert guidance will ensure that your baby receives the appropriate treatment and support to achieve healthy tongue posture and optimal development.

Working with Healthcare Professionals

When it comes to tongue-related concerns, seeking guidance from healthcare professionals can provide valuable support. Your pediatrician may be the first healthcare professional to evaluate your baby’s tongue posture and can refer you to a lactation consultant or speech therapist if necessary.

If your baby has a tongue tie, a healthcare professional, such as an ENT specialist or pediatric dentist, may recommend a frenotomy procedure to release the tongue tie. This procedure involves snipping the frenulum, a thin piece of tissue that attaches the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. The procedure is quick and typically done without general anesthesia.

Working with a lactation consultant can also be helpful if your newborn is experiencing breastfeeding difficulties due to tongue positioning issues. The consultant can provide guidance on proper latching techniques and may recommend exercises to improve tongue function.

Finding the right healthcare professionals to address your baby’s tongue-related concerns can make a significant difference in their oral health, feeding, and speech development. Be proactive in seeking guidance and don’t hesitate to ask questions or seek a second opinion.

Tongue Exercises and Stimulation

If you notice that your baby has persistent tongue thrust or abnormal tongue posture, exercises and stimulation techniques can be helpful in improving tongue muscle strength and coordination. These exercises aim to reduce tongue thrusting and encourage proper tongue positioning.

Exercises for Babies with Tongue Thrust

  • Tongue-Tip Elevation: Place a clean cloth on your baby’s upper lip and encourage them to touch the cloth with the tip of their tongue. Repeat several times a day, gradually increasing the duration of each session.
  • Tongue-Lateralization: Place a small amount of food on one side of your baby’s mouth and encourage them to move it to the other side with their tongue. This exercise can be done during feeding times.
  • Tongue-Hold: Gently touch the roof of your baby’s mouth with a clean finger, and encourage them to hold their tongue against it. Gradually increase the duration of each session.

Stimulation Techniques

  • Oral Massage: Gently massage your baby’s gums and tongue with a clean, damp washcloth or a soft-bristled toothbrush to stimulate tongue movement.
  • Oral-Placement Therapy: This technique involves using a pacifier or other device to encourage proper tongue positioning and reduce tongue thrusting.

It is important to note that these exercises and stimulation techniques should only be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional, such as a speech therapist or pediatrician. Overdoing these exercises or doing them incorrectly can lead to further issues.

Tongue Thrust and Developmental Milestones

As mentioned earlier, tongue thrust is a natural reflex that babies exhibit during their early stages of growth and development. This instinctive behavior is closely linked to various developmental milestones throughout infancy. When a baby is born, their reflexes, including tongue thrust, are critical for their survival and growth. During the first few weeks of life, babies rely on these reflexes to feed and swallow effectively. As they age, their reflexes become more refined, leading to improved feeding and motor skills.

The tongue thrust reflex typically begins to fade around six months of age when babies start introducing solid foods into their diets. At this stage, they begin to develop more voluntary control over their tongue movements. They also start to incorporate different tongue positions and movements into their babbling, which sets the foundation for their speech development.

As babies continue to grow and develop, their tongue movements evolve, allowing them to produce more complex sounds and words. By the age of two, most children have developed a full range of speech sounds and can express themselves verbally with ease.

It’s essential to note that tongue thrust and abnormal tongue posture can impact a child’s developmental milestones and affect their speech and language skills. Persistent tongue thrust beyond the typical age range or tongue tie can lead to limitations in speech sound development and oral-motor skills.

Therefore, it’s crucial to seek medical advice and intervention if you suspect any issues with your baby’s tongue posture or movements. Early identification and management of tongue-related concerns can ensure optimal outcomes for your child’s oral health, feeding, and speech development.


As a parent or caregiver, understanding your baby’s tongue posture and movement is an essential part of their development. Knowing the reasons behind why babies stick their tongues out can help identify potential issues that may require intervention. Remember, tongue thrust reflex is a normal part of infancy but should subside by six months of age. If you have concerns about your baby’s tongue posture, seek guidance from a healthcare professional.

Early intervention is key in addressing tongue-related concerns, as it can prevent long-term issues with feeding, speech, and dental health. By working with healthcare professionals and implementing strategies for promoting proper tongue positioning, you can help your baby achieve their developmental milestones and optimal growth.

Encouraging correct tongue posture through exercises and stimulation can also be beneficial for their oral health and speech development. As your baby grows, it’s important to be aware of how tongue thrusting is connected to various stages of their growth and development.

By recognizing the significance of tongue posture and movement in your baby’s development, you can provide them with the support they need to thrive. With these insights, you can confidently navigate your baby’s tongue-related concerns and ensure their optimal growth and well-being.


Why do babies always have their tongue out?

Babies often stick their tongues out as a natural reflex. This behavior is part of their oral exploration and development.

Is it normal for a baby’s tongue to be protruding?

Yes, a protruding tongue is common in babies. It is usually a temporary phase as they explore their oral environment and develop their tongue muscle control.

What causes a baby’s tongue to stick out?

There are several factors that can cause a baby’s tongue to stick out, including natural reflexes, developmental patterns, and possible underlying medical conditions.

How does tongue thrusting in babies work?

Tongue thrust is an instinctive reflex in babies where their tongues push forward and protrude from their mouths. It is a natural part of their feeding and swallowing process.

What are the different tongue postures in newborns?

Newborns have various tongue postures, such as tongue against the roof of the mouth, tongue against the lower gum, or tongue partially extended. These postures change as they grow and develop.

How does tongue movement in babies affect their development?

Tongue movement is essential for feeding, swallowing, and speech development in babies. It helps in proper oral function and muscle coordination.

Can tongue position affect breastfeeding difficulties?

Yes, the position of the tongue can impact breastfeeding success. Improper tongue posture or issues like tongue tie can make it challenging for a baby to latch and nurse effectively.

How does tongue thrusting affect speech development?

Tongue thrusting in infancy is connected to later stages of speech production and articulation. The reflex helps in the development of oral muscle control necessary for speech.

What are the remediation techniques for tongue thrust?

If a baby’s tongue thrust reflex persists beyond a certain age, various techniques and therapies can be used to address the issue. These may include oral exercises, myofunctional therapy, or consultations with healthcare professionals.

How does tongue posture impact dental health in babies?

The correct tongue posture is crucial for dental health in babies. Proper tongue positioning helps with tooth alignment, jaw development, and overall oral health.

Are there any medical conditions that can cause tongue protrusion in babies?

Yes, certain medical conditions can contribute to a baby’s tongue sticking out. These may include conditions like tongue tie, neurological disorders, or muscle weakness.

When should I seek medical advice regarding my baby’s tongue posture?

While tongue protrusion is often normal in babies, it is essential to seek medical advice if you have concerns. You should consult a healthcare professional if you observe persistent tongue protrusion or experience breastfeeding difficulties.

How can I encourage correct tongue posture in my baby?

Promoting proper tongue posture can be beneficial for your baby’s development. Some strategies include ensuring a proper latch during breastfeeding, practicing tongue exercises, and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals.

Why is early intervention important for tongue-related issues?

Early intervention for tongue thrust and abnormal tongue posture can have long-term benefits for your child’s oral health and speech development. Addressing these issues proactively can prevent potential complications and improve overall outcomes.

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