Baby Sucking On Bottom Lip – Reasons, Signs, And Solutions

My sister was shocked when I asked her to quickly grab the camera and record my daughter sucking on her bottom lip as I held her. Why? She asked. But because I was reeling with laughter at what I had just experienced, I was unable to respond swiftly and she wasn’t amused. Honestly, the expression on my baby’s face as she munched away her bottom lip was priceless. 

Babies do a lot of things that leave us parents gobsmacked at first, and because of the long-term damage that comes with it, they need to be stopped at some point. One of those things is sucking on their bottom lip.

Sucking the bottom lip is a common behavior in babies and most of the time is harmless. On the other hand, it can turn out to be harmful if it is excessive over an extended period. Usually, it starts around 3 months of age as your baby’s initial communication to you since, at this time, she has already formed her body map in the brain. And it will continue throughout the teething process. It is important to nip this habit before they generate a painful bruise.

As a parent, it is normal to want to find an early solution. But before you figure out what to do to help your baby stop sucking their bottom lip, you might want to find out why it is happening. The reason mostly depends on their age and stage of development as you will find out in this amazing article.

Can sucking the lip affect your baby?

Can sucking the lip affect your baby?

Yes. As much as this behavior may not cause serious damages if it goes on for only a couple of months, it may have negative effects on their development if it continues for an extended period. It could pose dangers such as…

Dental concerns

Prolonged sucking of the lower lip can result in an overbite where the upper teeth and lower lip overlap beyond normal, which can eventually cause difficulty in chewing. In severe cases, this misalignment will cause the lower teeth to come in contact with the upper gum line resulting in feasible gum damage.

Speech issues

Speech problems may develop if your baby continues with the lip sucking behavior beyond their first birthday mark. When they start to converse, it may be difficult for them to pronounce words correctly because their lip is on the way resulting in intense speech therapy which in turn, can be stressful for any baby.

Reasons why babies suck on their bottom lip

Reasons why babies suck on their bottom lip

One of the primary methods to help you understand why, is to pay attention to when your little person is doing it.

Here are some reasons why your baby might be sucking on their bottom lip.

They are about to start teething

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics teething causes your baby’s gums to itch. Once the teeth begin to erupt, the baby’s gums can get itchy and sore. Babies will always try to scratch at their itchy gums by eating on objects.

If your baby has recently started sucking on her lower lip and is drooling more than usual, then her teeth are preparing to erupt. Starting with the bottom ones hence the bottom lip sucking.

Other signs that your baby is about to start teething includes:

  • Sticking objects in their mouths
  • No longer sleeps through the night
  • Chewing on anything they can fix in their mouth
  • White gums where teeth are cutting through
  • Irritability and fussiness
  • Increased sucking

Baby is self-soothing

As babies grow, they learn different techniques to soothe themselves. No one teaches them how to do this. It is instinctive and most babies will exhibit some form of self-soothing at some point.

While in the womb, babies can easily reach their thumb and suck on it. But once they are born, their hands become a challenge to reach, hence sucking their bottom lip as a replacement to self-soothe. Other predominant self-soothing behavior includes

  • Rocking back and forth
  • Rubbing parts of parents bodies 
  • Pulling on hair and ears
  • Sucking on the thumb
  • Rubbing parts of their own body
  • Needing to have objects around during sleep

They want to try your food 

Baby is sucking on their bottom lip, maybe because they want to try your food.

At 6 months, my baby was looking straight into my mouth anytime I chewed on anything. As l learned later, she was just growing conscious of her surroundings, and at that time they are starting to learn to copy people especially if they see you eat.

If your baby is 6 months or older, talk to your pediatrician about getting them to start on solids. It is very important to consult with your doctor for advice on which solid foods your baby can start on according to their age.

Baby is stressed

Babies too, get stressed in the same manner as we the parents do. They get overstimulated, they get cranky and they get tired. Simple things like passing the baby around the room can overstimulate some babies.  Watch for these other signs that your little human is stressed and needs to wind down.

  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Change in eating habit
  • Excessively prolonged cries
  • Pushing away with the arm 
  • Frantic body movement
  • Squirming
  • Hiccups

Normal development 

Sometimes, babies sucking on their bottom lip is part of their neurological development. They are learning how to move their arms and legs and how things look,  feel, and sound. They have just discovered how to move their lips.

 As they grow older, your little one will learn new things and get distracted and move on to new fascinating things. To help her with that, pick up some sensory development toys.

Anxiety

Babies may suck on their lips when they feel anxious due to an unfamiliar environment or situation. It could be a change of nanny or a relocation. This will push them to isolate in a bid to get accustomed to the new normal hence resorting to chewing their lip.

Signs of lip sucking in babies

The most noticeable sign that your baby is sucking her bottom lip is to see them engage in the behavior. But you may also notice other signs of lip sucking like a red ring around their mouth or chapped skin.

On severe occasions, a baby who continues to suck on their lip constantly will begin to have it turned inward to their mouth. Some babies also suck so hard they leave visible blisters.

How to stop babies from sucking their lip

How to stop babies from sucking their lip

Now that we are in tune and you understand that lip-sucking is normal in certain developmental milestones, it is then time to begin finding strategies that will stop the behavior from happening.

Feed the baby on time

If your tiny person cues her hunger by sucking on her lip, feed her as soon as you notice it. Make an effort to feed her on time before she alerts you first. Be prepared for more regular feeding if they are going through a growth spurt.

Offer teething remedies

When you establish that your cranky cutie is sucking her lip because she is teething, it is time to find an alternative solution to the lip. Teething toys or a cold washcloth will do the trick. Just ensure to keep the washcloth in the fridge and not in the freezer. Stay away from silicon necklace and teething gel as FDA terms them unsafe.

Offer a pacifier

The good old pacifier reminds newborns how it felt in the womb. It is the greatest of all time way of soothing your baby without involving her lips. The pacifier provides comfort to babies, helps them feel relaxed and secure, and helps them control their emotions.

Hydrate the baby

Regularly offer water as a distraction and at the same time as a hydrant for the baby’s lips. Do not give sugary drinks where possible as this can also make the child lick their lips further. Instead, offer sugar-free candies as a better substitute for the lip sucking habit.

FAQs

Is my baby having dermatophagia?

There are various reasons behind your baby sucking on her bottom lip. However, it is usually totally very normal and should be manageable. Besides, almost all babies do outgrow this behavior at around 6 months of age and it seldom leads to dermatophagia in babies.

What is dermatophagia?

Also classified as an obsessive-compulsive and related disorder, dermatophagia is an emerging new concept in which a person compulsively bites, chews, or eats their skin. It is very common on the skin around the fingers.

To summarize

Babies suck their lips for various reasons that are not health-related. And this behavior will soon pass. However, be alert in case of any serious symptoms. Where applicable, help your baby kick the habit by offering the remedies we discussed above.

Hopefully, this has been a helpful guide and you are now feeling more at ease about your baby sucking on her lip.

Please leave a comment with all your questions below as we love hearing from you.

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