Raising your newborn can be one of the most satisfying and most terrifying endeavors you'll ever attempt in your lifetime. It doesn't matter if this is your first baby or your third. Each infant is unique. With this uniqueness often comes unexplained habits and behaviors that might be worrisome to parents.
The concern about a baby who sticks their tongue out a lot is common for many parents whose baby often has their tongue just at the surface or out over their lower lip.
Parents with infants who have this condition, called tongue protrusion, can wonder if their child is showing signs of larger more involved issues, such as Down Syndrome or other more serious conditions.
Tongue protrusion is actually quite common in very young children. There are many reasons why a baby might stick out their tongue.
While down syndrome and Beckwith-Weidemann syndrome could be possible causes of tongue protrusion, they are not the most probable reasons why a baby does this.
Tongue protrusion, especially in children under the age of four months, is part of the normal sucking reflex.
The baby uses their tongue to nurse and since they are developing facial muscles and reflexes, it is common for a child to need more time to understand and use their facial mechanics. A baby may simply leave their tongue out because it is comfortable and figuring a way to pull it back in isn't easy for the baby to do.
Just as a child's eyesight isn't fully honed at birth, neither is a baby's ability to use their facial muscles to create expressions that communicate their needs. Not drawing the tongue back into their mouth falls into this category.
Usually, after four to six months a baby will learn to close their mouth while not eating or drinking and employ their tongue for tasting and exploring their environment.
When the child is older they will use their tongue to examine their world. Everything goes in their mouth and it opens up a whole new opportunity for stress and worry.
Some people are mouth breathers. Your baby may just be a mouth breather. While babies usually breathe through their noses, some don't.
Consider yourself and your other family members and see if anyone else in the family breathes through their mouths. If you have a hereditary predisposition for this kind of breathing, perhaps your baby does too.
Your baby might be congested or have a blockage in their nasal passage. Check and see if your baby might have dried mucus or congestion in their nasal pathway. While the baby's nose may not be producing mucus, the baby could still be slightly congested which would cause them to want to use their mouths to breathe.
The baby's nose passageway is very small and irritants such as dust and airborne particles can inflame a newborn's delicate nasal passage.
You might want to check their breathing to make sure it isn't labored in any way, thus causing the mouth to fall open so the baby can get air.
Even though your newborn is a brand new human, you understand your child better than you think you might.
Without the medical expertise and by simply using a parent's intuition, you may know if there is something wrong with your child. If you notice they stick out their tongue but seem happy, alert, eating, sleeping and passing stools, most likely your child is healthy.
If your child is irritable or inconsolable for prolonged periods of time, has trouble eating, is hard to awaken or engage and seems "off" there may be a larger issue at stake. If your intuition tells you something is wrong, consult the nurses' hotline or your pediatrician.
A parent's innate understanding of their child and their child's needs is often the most important step in getting help for your baby.
A baby always sticking their tongue out may or may not be the first time you have noticed something about your child that is atypical to other children. This habit could easily be part of normal development or perhaps a symptom of something more complex.
It won’t be the last time your child will veer from the norm.
Perhaps your kiddo will love Brussel sprouts or turning your bathroom into a mad scientist's lab. There will be several times during your parenting journey when your child will exhibit behavior and choices that set them apart from other children.
At some point in a parent's lifetime, they will have to look at their child and accept that they are their own unique little person.
Tongue protrusion may be a just a funny infant quirk, or the moment you realize your child has a special challenge. Regardless of the outcome, there will come a time in you and your child's life when you'll have to accept the fact that they are who they are.
Medical intervention will help if there is something bigger behind a child always sticking out their tongue.
Watch your child and see if they have other symptoms or issues. If they seem healthy, well-placed words and a laugh will alleviate the worries of concerned friends and family who ask about your child's tongue.
A child's well being and self-assuredness ultimately come from a parent's love and acceptance of who they are.
It is important that you allow yourself to feel worried enough to understand your child's special condition and ready to accept whatever it becomes in the future.