Why does my baby act like he is chewing?

Most moms are asking, why does my baby act like he is chewing? Babies try to chew their hands and try to put odd things like pens, cloth pieces, toys, wooden pieces, etc into their mouths.  You can witness this cue since birth and occasionally seen up to one to two years old. You can see numerous times a day that your baby’s mouth moving in a chewing motion.  Most parents complain the baby is looking to suck for hunger. 

Chewing is a typical sign of teething.  This happens until the age of 2 years.  Most of the time little babies try to explore the world through their mouths.   So they try to put all the things they get and put into their mouths.  We can identify that babies are not chewing their favorite food item or other snacks like this.  Instead, they are sucking a few odd objects like cloth pieces, wooden pieces, toys, pens, etc.  But I suggest here that the children are chewing things to meet their unique reasons for chewing.

The babies act like chewing is very common.  Most parents ask, why does my baby act like he is chewing? They do these chewing behaviors to serve a beneficial purpose.  Most of the time babies start with chewing the tongue.  

1. What are the main reasons for babies act like chewing

Sometimes your child may be in severe anxiety or stress feelings continuously. So they start to chew movements continuously. But I suggest that you need to meet your health care provider if you notice these anxiety situations within your baby. If not that prolonged anxiety will lead to other kinds of psychological problems.

Most kids suffer from sensory processing difficulties at an early age. So they try to perform stimming movements ( continuous repetitive movements seeking sensory stimulation ) to get a sensory stimulation. So these continuous chewing movements may be kind of a stimming movement for sensory seeking.

I suggest that chewing presents in children sometimes helps them to keep their focus on particular things that they are engaged in. By doing this, they can block out other distractions while doing a certain task. Have you seen that most kids doing school work don’t even realize they are chewing on the end of their pen?

you notice that your child cannot realize that they have food particles on their lips, then I can suggest that they are having a bIfody awareness problem or sometimes they put too much food into their mouth at a time. They are having difficulty sensing things. That may be a part of the body awareness problem. The final result is those babies are chewing things continuously.

Sometimes the chewing may be a coping mechanism for most kids. So they chew things like sleeves, collars, etc. without realizing they are doing it.

Above mentioned chewing incidents are not unique for all the kids. The chewing pattern and the situations may be varied from child to child. As parents, I suggest you all keep a closer observation of your kid and identify the reason for chewing.

Talking to the health care provider is the best option for addressing these kinds of issues for your kid.


2. Various behavior patterns of chewing.

Sometimes the chewing happens at certain times of the day. You can or you can not find the specific reason for this. But you can point out this observation within your kid.

Few categories of kids select a certain specific place to perform these chewing movements and that may be the school or other specific place. Other sets of kids prefer the texture of the thing that they chew.  Some objects are harder and slime chewing objects are smoother.

3. Did you notice babies chew on their tongues. What are the probable reasons?

This is very common among babies. Most of the time, babies try to discover the tongue all day long. So they try to do the chewing movements with the tongue.

Even Though this movement seems a little odd, it is actually very common. They do it for other kinds of beneficial purposes.

There are a few situations where tongue chewing could be a problem

Common reasons for tongue chewing

Discover the body parts and the exploration of organs

It is very normal for babies to do various movement patterns for the sake of discovering body parts and their usage. Tongue movements are also the same. Sometimes little kids try to put their tongue out as a part of the exploration of the organs

Express the baby’s hunger

Babies try to express their hunger feeling in various forms. Chewing the tongue is the most common form among them. You know older babies are mostly experienced with solid food at a certain age limit and sometimes chewing motion and the food can associate with the chewing motion.

Several inborn reflexes of a newborn child

Certain categories of inborn reflexes are associated with the nutrition of the baby. The sucking reflex and the extrusion reflex are the main two reflexes among them. These two reflex types are involved with tongue movements. The sucking reflex will start as soon as the tongue touches the palate of the kid.

The tongue-thrust reflex or the extrusion reflex causes the baby to keep the latch on the baby bottle or the mom’s nipple. These reflex types are triggered with the movements of the tongue and also triggered with other objects such as the baby’s own fingers sometimes. At that instance, the baby tries to extend its tongue out and try to chew.

Teeth development

The development of teeth among babies causes discomfort and a little pain. Babies Try to alleviate this discomfort by rubbing gums and chewing on soft objects. So they identify the tongue as a kind of a soft object to chew to relieve pain and discomfort while teething

Show the preparedness of eating solid food.

Babies try to chew their tongues to show that they are ready for chewing the solid foods if given. This happens at the age of four to six months. So these developmental milestones may offer a chance to the baby to experiment with chewing movements with the tongue.

4. Tongue chewing indicates that the baby needs something

The tongue chewing shows that the baby needs solid food or he/she is passing the life event of teething. That is the primary indication for the tongue chewing of a baby.

 Try to use teething food as soon as possible.

Most of the time the baby uses the tongue to chew at a teething time. So you can give various teething foods instead of the tongue for the comfortness. Try to avoid the commercially made teethers as they contain various chemicals such as BPA, parabens, triclosan, etc. So it is advisable to introduce teething foods. Even Though they are messier they are healthier.

You can use peeled apples, mango seed with pulp and peeled carrots, etc.

Convert into solid foods 

It is ideal to introduce solid food at 6 months of age. The tongue chewing is a strong indication of hunger and breast milk or the formula alone can not fulfill the needs of your kid. So think of introducing solids as a timely need at this age limit.

Practice a feeding timetable

This simple method can reduce the tongue chewing movements and feed at a unique time will reduce the baby’s hunger

Loving momand dad with their breastfed baby

5. Why do babies look like chewing on their hands

For simple reasons such as boredom to self-soothing, hunger, or teething, most babies love to chew their hands. I strongly suggest that it is a very common behavior in the very first few months. If you worry a little about this habit, you will have a better chance to break this habit at the age of 18-24 months old.

If you suspect that the child is chewing your hand to relieve the pain of teething, you can introduce various teething toys at the market. But the most frequent cause for chewing the hand is due to excessive hunger most of the time. So observe your child and feed them if they excessively chew their hands.

Sometimes babies might play with their hands and try to discover their body parts using the tongue. So you need to create a child-proof environment as a child is trying to experiment with various things at this age limit. So try to make sure to remove sharp, toxic, small objects from the baby’s reach.

On some occasions, the baby tries to suck their hands due to the boring feelings. So try with songs, music or play with colors at these times.

Excessive hand chewing may cause oral thrush. So try to call your healthcare provider at that time.

6. Specific activity program for decreasing the chewing.

You should have a proper reason for chewing things by your kid. If you cannot identify you better get the assistance of your GP or a speech-language pathologist. According to my personal experience as a clinical fellow who worked in childcare setups, most children are chewing things as sensory-seeking movements. It means they can not process sensory experiences by using their sensory organs properly. Chewing movements occur mostly the inability to perform the oral sensory movements and oral sensory processing properly.

I can suggest a few oral motor activities for accelerating oral sensory stimulations within your kids.

  • Blowing bubbles
  • Drinking with a straw
  • Chewing gum
  • Blowing whistles and other sound producing objects
  • Blowing up balloons
  • Use electric toothbrush and stimulate oral musculature
  • Use various types of teethers.


7. Final thoughts

Most of the time the babies try to perform chewing movements due to two main reasons. That is teething and excessive hunger for the baby. You need to rule out these two reasons and try to facilitate relevant activities for the need of your child. As an example, you can give teethers, or try to think about the introduction of solid foods after discussing with your health care provider and so on.

So times some babies do these chewing movements excessively, due to certain illnesses such as autism and related spectrum disorders. So it is advisable for you to get a medical opinion in case of an illness like autism.

It is very important for arranging a home activity program for the reduction of the constant chewing of your baby. So try to blow bubbles, whistles, balloons, and similar activities at home.

Leave a Comment