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7 Reasons Toddler Won’t Keep Tongue in Mouth

We have all seen them. Adorable infants with their tongue stuck out-a perfectly natural reflex to aid their tiny mouth in the sucking motion. From birth to the age of 18 months, it is just a part of a child being a child.

But what about your toddler? Is it normal for a toddler over the age of 18 months to constantly stick their tongue out? Or, more importantly, is it something to be concerned about after a certain age?

Sticking out of the tongue is normal. Excessive tongue sticking out may indicate certain problems to be addressed. And most children resume a normal tongue position after a while. But what should you do if they don’t?

Maybe our guide will provide the answers to these questions and some reasons behind it. Or should you be worried if your toddler won’t keep his or her tongue in their mouth?

1. Just Be a Playing Thing

Some infants as young as two or three weeks old begin to mimic the parents. And one of the ways they mimic is to stick out their tongue. It can quickly become a game between parent and child.

There are several situations in playing with a child where sticking your tongue out is part of the game-thus becoming part of the mimic. If your child sticks the tongue out as they play, just consider it a natural part of kid-hood. And let them enjoy using their slobber slab.

2. Could Be a Habit

Infants are born with a tongue-thrust reflex causing them to stick out their tongues. It is also a feeding thing. A parent shouldn’t be alarmed if they still stick out the tongue after four to six months. Some babies keep sticking their tongue out because it seems to intrigue them, and it feels funny.

The strange feeling will then quickly turn into a habit. And habits, as we all know, are very hard to break. Should the habit persist past age two, the parent should consult the child’s doctor. Some other physical conditions may be causing a reflex we call a habit. Stay aware and try not to scold the child as it he might not be able to refrain from it.

3. Toddler Has Large Tongue

A child could be diagnosed with a condition referred to as macroglossia. A disorder is causing the tongue to be stuck out more than usual. While macroglossia is a genetic disorder, there could also be an abnormal blood vessel or overdeveloped muscle in the tongue.

These types of disorders cause an overly large tongue. The larger tongue simply does not fit in their smallmouth. When one of these children tries to speak, they often sound as if they have a mouthful of food or something else.

Some other indicators as to a large tongue are:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficult to swallow
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Difficult to eat

These conditions should be discussed with the child’s doctor.

4. Small Mouth

There are several medical conditions resulting in your child having a small mouth. If the size of the child’s mouth seems to be abnormal, it would be wise to consult with the child’s doctor.

While some of these conditions can be quite frightening, there is no cause to go all code red. It could be a completely normal situation in which your child will outgrow.

A small mouth could indicate such conditions as:

  • Micrognathia, or small jaw
  • Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome
  • Pierre-Robin syndrome
  • DiGeorge syndrome

Most of these conditions are known for their changes in the child’s mouth due to problems with the palate. Downs Syndrome is also another condition marked by the presence of a small mouth, short stature, certain facial features, and poor muscle tone.

5. Poor Muscle Tone

Even though they get plenty of exercise, some children have poor muscle tone. And the fact their tongue is a muscle being controlled by other muscles in the mouth, the tongue sticks out.

If you have questions about your child’s muscle tone again, contact their doctor. There are some other conditions other than those listed characterized by decreased muscle tone.

6. Excessive Gas

Some children have stomach issues creating excessive gas. The tongue being stuck out is an automatic reaction to the passing of gas.

Children will react in different ways when passing gas. Some will grimace while others even cry, but the tongue always sticks out. And as we all know, the older the child gets, they may even smile during the act!

7. Toddler May Be a Mouth Breather

We all typically breathe through our nose. Some children experience excessive nasal congestion or even asthma preventing them from proper breathing.

Your child could also have larger than normal tonsils or adenoids, which in turn cause them to breathe through their mouth. And when they breathe through their mouth, the tongue will automatically stick out.

When your child has their tonsils removed, the adenoids are removed as well. After the procedure, the tongue should stay in its proper position; in the mouth.

Breathing issues such as congestion and asthma should be handled by their doctor and closely monitored during childhood.


It would seem apparent when your child sticks out his or her tongue; it’s a reaction to an underlying cause. Most of these cause clear themselves up with age, and they outgrow them-some they do not.

But until you know for absolute truth there is a serious condition causing the reaction, don’t panic. Children are great receptors of panic and concern, and it could be because of nothing.

Then again, if you already know that your child is perfectly healthy and normal, take a long hard laugh at their cute little tongue sticking out! And always shower them in love and affection.

1 thought on “7 Reasons Toddler Won’t Keep Tongue in Mouth”

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