Sticking Tongue Out After Feeding: A Parent’s Guide

When you have a baby girl, you realize that there is something far more precious than the most precious jewels.

Sticking Tongue Out After Feeding
Sticking Tongue Out After Feeding

The arrival of a newborn brings joy, wonder, and countless moments of discovery for parents. Every coo, movement, and expression captivates their attention as they strive to comprehend the intricacies of their baby’s behavior. One peculiar phenomenon that often captures the attention of parents is the act of a newborn sticking its tongue out after feeding. In this comprehensive exploration, we delve into the reasons behind this seemingly simple yet intriguing behavior, shedding light on the physiological, developmental, and psychological aspects that contribute to this adorable gesture.

The Early Days: A Glimpse into Newborn Behavior

Welcoming a newborn into the world is a magical and transformative experience for parents. The early days are filled with wonder and discovery as caregivers navigate the nuances of caring for their little ones. One of the fundamental aspects of this journey is understanding the intricacies of feeding and the behavior of newborns during their first encounters with nourishment. In this comprehensive exploration, we delve into the initiation of breastfeeding and bottle feeding, closely observing the sucking reflex in newborns. Additionally, we’ll explore the intriguing phenomenon of newborns sticking their tongues out after feeding, shedding light on the fascinating world of early infant behavior.

I. The Initiation of Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding:

A. Breastfeeding:

Breastfeeding is a deeply ingrained and natural process that not only provides essential nourishment for the newborn but also establishes a unique bond between the infant and the mother. The initial attempts at breastfeeding are crucial for both parties involved. Mothers often experience a mix of anticipation and concern as they strive to ensure a successful latch.

1. Latch-on Technique:

   In the early days, achieving a proper latch is paramount for successful breastfeeding. Exploring the importance of the latch-on technique and its impact on the mother-infant bonding process.

2. Colostrum:

   The first few feedings introduce the newborn to colostrum, a nutrient-rich, antibody-packed substance that precedes mature breast milk. Unpacking the benefits of colostrum and its role in the baby’s early immune system development.

3. Challenges and Solutions:

   Discussing common challenges faced by mothers during the initiation of breastfeeding and providing practical solutions. Addressing issues such as latch difficulties, nipple pain, and engorgement.

B. Bottle Feeding:

While breastfeeding is a natural choice for many, bottle feeding becomes a crucial alternative for various reasons. Exploring the dynamics of introducing a bottle to a newborn and the different types of infant formulas available.

1. Choosing the Right Bottle:

   Evaluating the various types of baby bottles and nipples to determine the most suitable options for different infants. Discussing factors such as bottle materials, flow rates, and anti-colic features.

2. Formula Feeding:

   Examining the composition and nutritional value of infant formulas. Providing insights into formula feeding schedules, preparing formula safely, and the importance of responsive bottle feeding.

II. Observing the Sucking Reflex in Newborns:

The sucking reflex is an automatic and essential behavior exhibited by newborns that facilitates feeding. Understanding the mechanics of the sucking reflex and its role in both breastfeeding and bottle feeding.

A. Development of the Sucking Reflex:

   Exploring the neurological and physiological aspects of the sucking reflex, from its emergence in utero to its refinement in the early days after birth.

B. Signs of a Strong Sucking Reflex:

   Identifying the indicators of a robust sucking reflex in newborns. Examining the rhythmic and coordinated movements involved in successful sucking.

C. Addressing Challenges:

   Delving into common challenges associated with the sucking reflex, such as ineffective latching, weak sucking, and nipple confusion. Offering guidance on how caregivers can address these challenges for a smoother feeding experience.

III. Newborn Sticking Tongue Out After Feeding:

A. The Phenomenon Explained:

   Investigating the adorable yet perplexing behavior of newborns sticking their tongues out after feeding. Unraveling the possible reasons behind this behavior, including physiological and developmental factors.

B. Normalcy vs. Concerns:

   Differentiating between typical newborn behaviors, such as tongue protrusion, and potential concerns that may warrant attention. Providing reassurance to parents and caregivers regarding the normalcy of certain post-feeding behaviors.

C. Developmental Milestones:

   Linking the sticking-out-tongue behavior to broader developmental milestones in infancy. Discuss how these early behaviors contribute to oral motor skill development and communication.

B. The Early Days: A Glimpse into Newborn Behavior – The World of Reflexes

In the enchanting world of newborns, understanding their behavior is like deciphering a unique code. Among the many intriguing aspects are primitive reflexes and involuntary movements that are crucial in the early days of an infant’s life. One such reflex that plays a pivotal role in feeding is the rooting reflex.

The rooting reflex is a fascinating instinct that prompts a newborn to turn their head towards anything that touches their cheek or mouth as if searching for a source of nourishment. This reflex is crucial for successful breastfeeding, as it helps the baby locate the mother’s nipple. Observing the intricate dance of a newborn’s instinctive movements during feeding is truly a marvel.

After a satisfying feed, it is not uncommon to witness the adorable sight of a newborn sticking their tongue out. This post-feeding behavior is linked to the suckling reflex, an automatic response triggered by the sensation of the nipple in the mouth. The tongue-thrust reflex, where the tongue pushes outward, is a part of this complex interplay of reflexes.

The significance of the newborn sticking their tongue out after feeding lies in the coordinated effort of these reflexes. It not only signals the infant’s contentment but also plays a role in preventing overfeeding. As the baby’s hunger is satiated, the tongue-thrust reflex acts as a natural defense mechanism, ensuring that they do not continue to suckle when no longer hungry.

This delightful behavior is a testament to the intricate design of a newborn’s reflex system, showcasing the seamless integration of primitive instincts for survival. As parents and caregivers, witnessing these small yet significant gestures provides a window into the magical early days of a baby’s life, fostering a deeper connection with the tiny marvels we hold in our arms.

Anatomy of the Newborn Tongue: Unveiling Development and Behaviors

The journey of tongue development begins in the womb, where intricate processes shape this vital organ even before birth. Understanding the anatomy of the newborn tongue requires delving into its fetal development and the influential role of genetics.

A. Tongue Development in the Womb

1. Fetal Development of the Tongue: The embryonic phase witnesses the formation of the tongue’s muscular and connective tissue. Initially, a midline swelling appears, known as the tongue bud. Over subsequent weeks, the tongue undergoes a complex series of morphological changes, including the merging of various tissue components. By the end of the embryonic period, the tongue begins to take on its distinct form, crucial for the infant’s future feeding and communication.

2. The Role of Genetics in Tongue Structure: Genetic factors play a pivotal role in determining the architecture of the newborn’s tongue. Specific genes orchestrate the intricate dance of molecular signals that guide the development of tongue muscles, nerves, and connective tissues. Genetic variations can influence tongue size, shape, and mobility, contributing to the unique characteristics of each individual’s tongue.

B. Newborn Sticking Tongue Out After Feeding

One common and endearing behavior observed in newborns is the tendency to stick their tongues out after feeding. This seemingly simple action is a manifestation of the baby’s natural reflexes and developmental milestones.

After a satisfying feed, infants often display a relaxed state. Sticking out the tongue can be a reflexive response associated with the suckling instinct. It might also serve as a means of exploring the world, as babies utilize their mouths for sensory exploration in the early months.

This post-feeding tongue protrusion is not only a developmental hallmark but also an adorable expression of contentment. It demonstrates the intricate connection between the physiological and neurological aspects of newborn behavior.

B. Tongue Tie: A Common Phenomenon

*Tongue tie*, medically known as ankyloglossia, is a condition that occurs when the strip of skin beneath a baby’s tongue (lingual frenulum) is shorter than usual. This condition restricts the range of motion of the tongue, potentially affecting various aspects of a baby’s development. While tongue tie is a common occurrence, it’s crucial to understand its definition, causes, and the impact it can have on breastfeeding and feeding behaviors.

Definition and Causes of Tongue Tie:

Tongue tie is often identified at birth when the baby’s ability to move their tongue freely is noticeably restricted. The lingual frenulum, which connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth, maybe too short or tight. This condition can be congenital, meaning it occurs during fetal development and may run in families. In some cases, it might not be immediately apparent, and the symptoms may become more noticeable as the baby grows and begins to breastfeed.

Impact on Breastfeeding and Feeding Behaviors:

One significant impact of tongue ties is on breastfeeding. Babies with tongue ties may struggle to latch onto the breast effectively, leading to difficulties in obtaining enough milk during feeds. This can result in frustration for both the baby and the breastfeeding mother. Additionally, inadequate latching may contribute to issues such as nipple pain and mastitis for the mother.

An interesting observation related to tongue tie is the phenomenon of newborns sticking their tongues out after feeding. This behavior may be a compensatory mechanism for the limited tongue movement during feeding. Babies with tongue ties might instinctively extend their tongues to alleviate discomfort or to explore their oral environment. While this behavior can be endearing, it serves as a visual cue for parents and healthcare providers to investigate the possibility of tongue tie and seek appropriate evaluation and intervention if necessary.

Physiological Mechanisms Behind Post-Feeding Tongue Protrusion

A. Satiety Signals

Post-feeding tongue protrusion is a fascinating physiological phenomenon that involves the extension of the tongue following a meal. This intriguing behavior is driven by a combination of intricate physiological mechanisms, with satiety signals playing a crucial role in the process.

1. The Connection Between Feeding and Satiety:

   Post-feeding tongue protrusion is intricately linked to the act of eating. As an essential component of the digestive system, the tongue plays a vital role in manipulating food during chewing and swallowing. The connection between feeding and satiety is rooted in the body’s need to regulate food intake. When an individual consumes a meal, various sensory cues are triggered, signaling the initiation of the digestive process. These cues include taste, smell, and the mechanical actions of chewing and swallowing.

2. How the Body Signals Fullness and Satisfaction:

   Satiety signals are the body’s sophisticated way of communicating fullness and satisfaction to the brain. These signals originate from multiple sources, including the gastrointestinal tract, blood circulation, and hormonal responses. One key player in this process is the release of hormones such as leptin and ghrelin. Leptin, produced by fat cells, signals to the brain that sufficient energy stores are available, promoting a sense of fullness and satisfaction. Conversely, ghrelin, known as the hunger hormone, decreases after a meal, contributing to the feeling of satiety.

   Additionally, stretch receptors in the stomach and intestines play a pivotal role in signaling fullness. As the stomach expands with food, these receptors are activated, sending signals to the brain that the stomach is reaching its capacity. This information is crucial in modulating the individual’s eating behavior and preventing overconsumption.

B. Physiological Mechanisms Behind Post-Feeding Tongue Protrusion

The intricate dance of physiological mechanisms orchestrating post-feeding tongue protrusion reveals the fascinating complexity of oral reflexes. Among the key players in this symphony are the suck-swallow-breathe coordination and the extrusion reflex.

1. The Suck-Swallow-Breathe Coordination:

   At the heart of post-feeding tongue protrusion lies the remarkable coordination of the suck-swallow-breathe sequence. Infants instinctively develop this complex interplay of actions to facilitate the intake of nourishment. As the baby latches onto the nipple or teat, the tongue initiates a sucking motion, drawing in milk. Simultaneously, the swallowing reflex is triggered, propelling the liquid towards the esophagus. To ensure optimal breathing, there is a delicate synchronization, allowing the baby to take breaths between swallows. This seamless coordination is vital for efficient feeding and the overall well-being of the infant.

2. Exploring the Role of the Extrusion Reflex in Tongue Movement:

   The extrusion reflex, also known as the tongue-thrust reflex, contributes significantly to the intricate tongue movements observed post-feeding. This reflex is particularly prominent in newborns and involves the automatic protrusion of the tongue when the baby’s lips or surrounding areas are stimulated. While it serves a protective function during breastfeeding, preventing the accidental ingestion of non-nutritive substances, it also plays a crucial role in the development of oral motor skills. The extrusion reflex gradually diminishes as the infant matures, giving way to more controlled tongue movements.

Understanding these physiological mechanisms sheds light on the remarkable complexity and adaptability of the human body, particularly in the early stages of life. The coordination of oral reflexes, such as the suck-swallow-breathe sequence and the extrusion reflex, not only ensures adequate nourishment but also lays the foundation for the development of essential motor skills in the journey from infancy to early childhood.

Developmental Milestones and Tongue Exploration

A. The Early Weeks: From Reflexes to Voluntary Movements

Developmental milestones in infants mark the progression from instinctive reflexes to intentional actions, providing a fascinating glimpse into the intricate journey of early childhood development. During the initial weeks, infants undergo a remarkable transformation in their ability to control and coordinate their movements, with particular emphasis on the intriguing realm of tongue exploration.

In the early weeks of life, infants exhibit reflexes that are crucial for survival, such as the sucking reflex for feeding. As the weeks unfold, a gradual shift occurs towards voluntary control. Tracking this development unveils the progression from instinct-driven movements to purposeful actions initiated by the infant. The journey towards intentional movement involves the integration of sensory and motor skills, allowing infants to engage with their environment more deliberately.

One noteworthy aspect of this developmental process is the emergence of purposeful tongue movements. Initially, tongue movements may be reflexive and linked to basic survival functions like sucking. However, as the weeks progress, infants begin to explore the range of motion and possibilities their tongues offer. This marks a crucial milestone in the development of oral motor skills.

Tongue exploration serves as a foundation for various essential functions, including speech and oral-motor coordination. The infant’s ability to move the tongue with intent lays the groundwork for later stages of communication development. Parents and caregivers can observe and support this progression by providing age-appropriate stimuli, such as textured toys or safe objects for the infant to mouth.

B. Developmental Milestones and Tongue Exploration: Unveiling the World Through Sensory Exploration

In the fascinating journey of early childhood development, newborns employ a unique and intuitive tool to explore the world around them—their mouths. This oral exploration is a crucial aspect of developmental milestones, allowing infants to gain valuable sensory experiences and shape their understanding of the environment.

1. How Newborns Use Their Mouths to Explore the World:

From the moment of birth, infants exhibit an innate tendency to use their mouths as a primary means of interaction with the world. This behavior is rooted in the primitive reflexes that guide newborns to seek nourishment and connection. Infants engage in mouthing behaviors, such as sucking and licking, as a way to gather information about their surroundings. Through these actions, they explore the texture, taste, and temperature of objects within their reach, creating a foundation for sensory learning.

This oral exploration also plays a crucial role in the development of oral-motor skills, setting the stage for later milestones like speech and feeding. The coordination and control required for tongue movements during exploration contribute to the refinement of fine and gross motor skills, fostering a connection between the sensory and motor aspects of development.

2. The Role of Sensory Experiences in Tongue Protrusion:

Tongue protrusion, a common developmental milestone, is closely linked to sensory experiences. Infants often exhibit tongue thrust reflexes, where the tongue reflexively pushes outward in response to stimuli. This reflex is integral in facilitating breastfeeding and early feeding experiences. As infants explore different textures and sensations through their mouths, the tongue’s protrusion becomes a vital part of their sensory-motor integration.

Sensory experiences, including taste, touch, and temperature sensations, influence the development of oral-motor coordination. These experiences contribute to the refinement of tongue movements, enhancing an infant’s ability to manipulate and interact with the world. As caregivers observe and support these exploratory behaviors, they play a crucial role in nurturing the developmental journey of infants, fostering a strong foundation for future cognitive and motor skills.

Psychological Aspects: Communication Through Expression

Non-verbal communication plays a crucial role in understanding human behavior, and one of the most intriguing aspects is observed in newborns. Analyzing facial expressions in newborns provides valuable insights into their emotions, needs, and the early development of communication skills.

1. Analyzing Facial Expressions in Newborns:

Newborns communicate primarily through non-verbal cues, with facial expressions being a key mode of expression. Observing a newborn sticking their tongue out after feeding is a common and fascinating behavior. This action is often linked to the satisfaction of hunger and contentment. The tongue protrusion is not just a random movement; it serves as a clear indicator of the baby’s physiological state and emotional well-being.

The act of sticking the tongue out can be seen as a form of self-regulation and satisfaction. It signals that the baby has completed a feeding session and is in a state of comfort. Understanding this non-verbal cue allows parents and caregivers to respond appropriately to the infant’s needs, fostering a secure attachment and promoting healthy emotional development.

2. The Significance of Tongue Protrusion as a Form of Communication:

Tongue protrusion in newborns is not limited to post-feeding satisfaction; it can also serve as a means of communication. The action may indicate a desire for additional comfort, a need for burping, or even a readiness for interaction with caregivers. Recognizing and responding to these subtle non-verbal cues strengthens the parent-infant bond and lays the foundation for effective communication as the child grows.

B. Psychological Aspects: Communication Through Expression

Communication extends beyond spoken words, delving into the intricate realm of non-verbal cues. In the fascinating world of psychological aspects, the subtle nuances of expression play a pivotal role. One such captivating phenomenon involves the association of tongue movements with distinct emotional states, shedding light on the intricate language of unspoken communication.

Newborns, in particular, provide a captivating canvas for observing these communication nuances. After feeding, a common yet endearing behavior observed is the act of sticking the tongue out. This seemingly simple gesture holds a wealth of psychological insight into the infant’s emotional state. It is not merely a random movement but a deliberate expression, revealing a myriad of emotions and sensations.

The act of sticking out the tongue after feeding can be associated with a sense of contentment and comfort. For a newborn, the feeling of satiety and the warmth of being cradled in the caregiver’s arms evoke a profound sense of security. The protruding tongue becomes a symbol of satisfaction, signaling that the infant is not only physically nourished but also emotionally fulfilled.

Moreover, this instinctive behavior serves as a form of self-soothing, helping the newborn regulate their emotions. The rhythmic motion of the tongue becomes a comforting ritual, akin to a security blanket, providing a source of reassurance in the early stages of life.

Understanding the role of comfort and contentment in these subtle expressions allows caregivers and parents to strengthen the emotional bond with their infants. By recognizing these non-verbal cues, caregivers can respond with attentiveness, fostering a secure and nurturing environment for the child’s psychological development.

In essence, the act of a newborn sticking out their tongue after feeding transcends the physical act of nourishment; it is a profound display of emotional well-being and a testament to the intricate language of expression in the earliest stages of life.

Common Concerns and FAQs: Baby Sticking Tongue Out After Feeding

New parents often find themselves faced with numerous questions and concerns, especially when it comes to the unique behaviors of their newborns. One common query that frequently arises is why babies stick their tongues out after feeding. While this behavior may initially cause alarm, it is generally a normal and harmless occurrence.

Common Concerns:

Parents often wonder if there is a specific reason behind their baby sticking their tongue out after a feeding session. In most cases, this behavior is a reflexive action that aids in the digestion process. Babies are born with a thrust reflex, which prompts them to push their tongues forward when their lips are touched. This reflex ensures efficient sucking during breastfeeding or bottle feeding. However, as a baby’s feeding skills develop, the tongue-thrust reflex may still be present, leading to the occasional sticking out of the tongue.


1. Is it normal for my baby to stick their tongue out after feeding?

Yes, it is a common reflex in infants, and as their oral motor skills mature, this behavior typically diminishes.

2. Should I be concerned about tongue thrusting affecting my baby’s feeding habits?

In most cases, no. However, if you notice persistent issues with feeding or other signs of discomfort, consult your pediatrician for personalized advice.

Strategies for Soothing and Bonding:

1. Gentle Techniques to Comfort a Newborn:

   Gentle, soothing techniques can help ease any concerns you may have about your baby’s behavior. Softly stroking their cheek or providing a pacifier can provide comfort and may reduce the frequency of tongue thrusting.

2. Building a Strong Bond Through Responsive Parenting:

   Responsive parenting involves attentively meeting your baby’s needs. By responding promptly to their cues, whether it’s hunger, tiredness, or the need for comfort, you strengthen the bond between you and your child. Holding your baby close, engaging in skin-to-skin contact, and maintaining eye contact during feeding times contribute to a nurturing environment that fosters emotional connection.

VII. Cultural Perspectives on Newborn Sticking Tongue Out After Feeding

The phenomenon of newborns sticking their tongues out after feeding is a universal occurrence, yet cultural perspectives on this behavior vary significantly across different societies. This subtle post-feeding action, often dismissed as a mere reflex, is subject to diverse interpretations and reactions, shaping the attitudes and practices surrounding newborn care.

1. Cross-Cultural Variances:

   In exploring the attitudes towards newborn behavior, cultures exhibit a spectrum of responses to the seemingly simple act of sticking out the tongue after feeding. Some societies view it as an endearing gesture, attributing it to innocence and playfulness. In contrast, others might attach cultural significance, interpreting it as a sign of satisfaction or a connection to spiritual beliefs. The variance in reactions highlights the subjectivity of cultural interpretations and the complex interplay between tradition, superstition, and contemporary understandings of infant behavior.

2. Cultural Rituals and Practices:

   The act of a newborn sticking their tongue out after being fed is often interwoven with cultural rituals and practices. In certain communities, it might be seen as an encouraging sign, prompting specific celebrations or rituals to mark the occasion. Conversely, some cultures may associate the behavior with health indicators, leading to unique post-feeding practices such as massages, chants, or dietary adjustments. These rituals not only reflect cultural norms but also serve as a means of imparting traditional wisdom from one generation to the next.

Case Studies and Personal Experiences of Tongue Protrusion After Feeding

Parenting is a journey filled with countless memorable moments, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. One intriguing aspect that some parents encounter is the sight of their newborn sticking their tongue out after feeding. This seemingly simple behavior can be a source of curiosity and concern for many parents, leading them to share their stories and insights.

1. Real-life Stories of Parents:

   One parent, Sarah, vividly recalls her first experience with her newborn sticking their tongue out after feeding. Concerned, she consulted her pediatrician, only to find out that this behavior is relatively common among newborns. Sarah’s narrative highlights the importance of seeking professional advice to ease parental worries. Another parent, James, shares how his initial concern turned into fascination as he observed his baby’s tongue protrusion evolving over the first few weeks.

2. Shared Experiences and Lessons Learned:

   Many parents have found solace in connecting with others who have undergone similar experiences. Online parenting communities have become hubs for sharing insights and lessons learned. Emily, a mother of two, shares her tips on managing this behavior, emphasizing the significance of burping and ensuring a comfortable feeding environment. Mark, a father, emphasizes the role of patience and understanding, encouraging parents to embrace the uniqueness of each child’s developmental journey.

These parental narratives and shared experiences serve as valuable resources for those navigating the early stages of parenthood. They highlight the diversity of newborn behaviors and the importance of open communication among parents. Through these stories, a sense of community is fostered, assuring parents that they are not alone in their concerns.

Future Research and Implications of Newborns Sticking Tongue Out After Feeding

The phenomenon of newborns sticking their tongues out after feeding has intrigued researchers and healthcare professionals, yet there remains a need for further study to deepen our understanding of this behavior. This article explores the gaps in current research and proposes potential avenues for future investigations to shed light on the implications of newborns sticking their tongues out post-feeding.

The Need for Further Study:

1. Identifying Gaps in Current Research:

While some research exists on newborn feeding behaviors, there is a noticeable gap in understanding the significance of infants sticking their tongues out after nursing or bottle-feeding. Limited studies have focused specifically on this behavior, leaving healthcare providers with unanswered questions regarding its physiological and developmental implications. Further exploration is needed to discern whether this is a normal reflex or if it signifies an underlying issue that requires attention.

2. Potential Avenues for Future Investigations:

a. Physiological Correlations:

   Exploring the physiological aspects of newborn tongue protrusion post-feeding could provide valuable insights. Investigating the coordination between the sucking, swallowing, and breathing reflexes and how these may relate to tongue protrusion could help elucidate the reasons behind this behavior.

b. Developmental Milestones:

   Understanding the developmental milestones associated with tongue movements in newborns is crucial. Research could delve into how tongue protrusion evolves as part of normal development and whether variations in this behavior may indicate developmental delays or abnormalities.

c. Feeding Techniques and Positioning:

   Examining the influence of feeding techniques and positioning on post-feeding tongue protrusion is another avenue for exploration. Research could investigate whether certain feeding practices contribute to or alleviate this behavior, providing practical guidance for parents and caregivers.


In the grand tapestry of early childhood development, the act of a newborn sticking their tongue out after feeding is a captivating thread that weaves together physiological, developmental, and psychological insights. By unraveling the layers of this behavior, parents and caregivers gain a deeper understanding of their baby’s unique expressions and contribute to the collective knowledge that shapes our appreciation of the intricacies of infancy. As we continue to explore the mysteries of early childhood, the post-feeding tongue protrusion serves as a gentle reminder of the delicate dance between nature, nurture, and the sheer joy of parenthood.