What Does it Mean if My Baby is Sucking His Bottom Lip?

As a new parent, or even a seasoned one, you are always worrying about your baby and his health and wellbeing. This is natural, of course, since you are solely responsible for the safety, happiness and health of this tiny little being.

Sometimes babies exhibit odd behaviors and we may not understand why, then immediately worry it is sign of trouble. You may have noticed your baby sucking his bottom lip and thought, why is he doing this? Is he hungry? Is it some sort of “tick”? Is he creating oral health issues?

I am here to assure you that your baby sucking his bottom lip is probably nothing serious at all and, most often times, just a behavior that he will overcome with time. You are still probably curious about the causes though and they are fairly simple.

Teething

All parents have a fear of that dreaded period when teething begins. We have all heard the horror stories about babies awake all night crying, gnawing away at their fists or anything they can get their hands on and in a general state of pain. Well, not all babies go through the teething process in such a way.

If you notice your baby sucking on his bottom lip, this may signal the beginning of the teething phase. Watch for other signs such as excessive drool, rosey cheeks and of course hardened gums.These signs along with sucking his bottom lip could indicate a tooth is soon to appear.

Self-Soothing

You have to remember, your little baby was in your womb all snug and cozy with only his thumb to play with. In many ultrasound pictures, babies have been seen sucking their thumb, spreading their fingers and waving. Out in the open world, your baby isn’t as snug and may not be able to readily find his thumb to suck on, which opens the door to lip sucking instead.

Babies have a natural instinct to soothe themselves which professionals claim is present even as young as a week old, so of course, he will learn to use whatever tools are convenient and close by which could very well be his bottom lip as opposed to fingers or thumbs. His lip is right there and that sucking motion is very soothing, much as a pacifier would be.

Time for the Next Feeding?

Just as not all babies cry when they are teething, not all babies will cue their hunger with wails and cries. Sometimes babies try to “feed” themselves by using their hands, fingers, thumbs and yes, even their bottom lip. When your baby is nearing the next feeding, he may begin to make the same sucking motion with his bottom lip as he would with a nipple in his mouth on instinct.

You may be confused by this hunger sign especially if your baby just ate recently and isn’t due for another feeding for a couple of hours. However, babies do go through growth spurts and sometimes what is called “cluster feeding” which may be the cause of his lip sucking before you expect to have to feed him again. Try offering the breast or bottle to see if he is indeed hungry.

Medical Concerns

Although most babies will outgrow lip sucking by about six months of age, especially if solids are introduced, there may be some wee ones who refuse to give it up. There are a couple of medical concerns connected to constant bottom lip sucking and you should be aware of them just in case.

Oral Health

If your baby continues sucking his bottom lip for long periods of time, he will eventually create an overbite. This can affect his chewing and alignment of his teeth once they have all grown in.

If your baby continues lip sucking after his first birthday, it may be time to think of other reasons why this might be happening. One common cause is stress and anxiety your child may be feeling. This is similar to self-soothing in babies but since your child is older, this behavior should have already stopped. It is important to address potential causes of the stress and anxiety.

Try Not to Worry

Worrying is second nature when you have children, especially little babies who can't use words to tell you how they're feeling. Of course you may start to worry if you notice your baby is sucking his bottom lip and you aren’t sure why but you can be rest assured, it is probably a very natural response.

If you look for these accompanying signs, you may have an answer as to why it is it happening:

  • Excessive drooling-- teething
  • Gnawing at fingers and fist as well--teething
  • ​Sucking fingers or hands--hunger
  • ​Crying intermittently--hunger
  • ​Falls asleep--self-soothing
  • ​Playing with toys--self-soothing

The only time you should become more concerned is if it becomes a prolonged behavior well past your baby’s first birthday since this is when oral damage can be done and there may be other underlying issues.

Hopefully this has been a helpful guide and you are feeling more at ease about your baby sucking his bottom lip. Please leave a comment or question because we love hearing from you.

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Veronica Mitchell
 

Hi! My name is Veronica Mitchell. I am a mother to two adorable little girls and a handsome little boy. I spend my days caring from my children, packing lunches, reading aloud, kissing boo-boos, and working as the Chief Editor of My Parenting Journey. On this site, you will find friendly advice, expert suggestions, and guides to all shopping for the products you actually need.

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