Baby Smacking Lips: Is It Normal?

baby smacking lips

As a parent, it’s only normal for you to take an interest in everything about your baby. Ever wondered what this baby smacking lips thing is all about? 

Is it normal, or is it something you should be worried about? While babies can’t tell us what they want or what they are feeling, they give cues that can help us figure out their needs. 

It can be difficult to understand a baby’s cues, but you should get the hang of it soon with time and attentiveness. 

Relax, it’s quite common. Babies tend to do this quite often. You’ll see them put their lips together and make a sort of suckling or chewing loud sound.

Your baby normally starts the habit around four months. Most healthy babies will go through this developmental stage. 

There are various reasons why your baby may be smacking their lips, so you will need to observe and note when and how often this occurs. Some of the common reasons for lip-smacking are to express hunger during teething or just self-soothing. 

So, there is no reason to get worried, as lip-smacking rarely means that there is something wrong with your precious bundle. Let’s get into more detail below. 

baby smacking lips

Common Reasons For Baby Smacking Lips

Your baby simply enjoys the smacking sensation

Every day, your baby is growing and learning new things. Lip-smacking is just one of those new habits that your baby could be finding fascinating or relaxing. 

Usually, when babies learn something new, they tend to repeat it over and over again as a way of reinforcing what they have learned, which is completely normal behavior. 

You will discover that your baby normally engages in this activity when they are relaxed and just passing the time away.

RELATED: Weird Things Babies Do That Are Completely Normal

Your baby is teething

As a parent, you are awe-struck when that teeny weeny pearly white tooth begins to pop out of your baby’s gums. While this is an exciting milestone for both you and your baby, it can be quite uncomfortable for your little one. 

This discomfort may lead to the baby soothing himself by smacking the lips. Other tell-tale signs that your baby is teething are excessive drooling, chewing on anything within reach, inflamed gums, fever, and fussiness. 

Teething usually begins around the sixth month but can start as early as four months. Many tried and tested remedies will help soothe your baby’s sensitive gums during this phase. 

You can use teething necklaces, toys, soothing gels, and frozen fruit and vegetables. Give them to baby to nibble on to help stop baby smacking lips and deal with teething pain-related issues.

Hunger pangs

Every parent strives to ensure that their baby is well-fed and content.

Knowing your child’s means of communicating that they are hungry is one of the most important things to learn as a parent. Infants differ, and not every baby will cry or fuss when hungry. 

It is important to note that crying will occur when the baby has been expressing other hunger cues for a while, and the need has not been satisfied.

Infant lip-smacking is one of the early-stage hunger cues that your baby will give you. 

Other cues include sucking on fingers and toes (or any object nearby), mouth gaping, and also sucking noises. Learn to pick up on these hints before it escalates to a teary downpour.

However, sometimes, even after feeding your baby, they will still smack their lips.

Having your baby smack their lips after a feed can be confusing to you as you are uncertain whether the baby is still hungry after the feed. A crucial consideration is to note your child’s developmental stage. 

Your baby is going through a growth spurt at certain stages and will need more food than the usual portion.

The stages when your infant is going through growth spurts are usually the three, six, and nine-month stages.

If your baby is not at the growth spurt phases but still smacking lips after a feed, it may well just be a self-soothing habit. There will, therefore, not be a need to increase your baby’s meal portion.

RELATED: Baby Sucking Bottom Lip: Here’s Why It Happens and What to Do

what does it mean when baby smacks their lips

Baby is ready for solids

As a general rule, babies will be ready to start on solids at six months. Breastmilk alone will no longer be enough to meet your infant’s energy needs.

At this stage, your baby may start smacking their lips, giving you a cue that solids now need to be incorporated into the diet.

Other useful signs to show that your baby is ready for solids can include good head and neck control, sitting upright when supported, showing a keen interest in food, reaching out for your food, and opening their mouth when you offer him food on a spoon.

Remember, make this journey as exciting as possible for both of you. Gradually add more foods to your baby’s diet and allow them to explore new textures and flavors. 

Don’t have too high expectations as you begin this culinary adventure, as some foods may simply be tasted and not swallowed.

When the baby begins to turn away from the spoon, it usually means they have had their fill. Patience is key; take it one day at a time.

Your baby is feeling sleepy

After a long day’s play (or even a couple of hours), your baby is ready to retire to bed.

While some babies may require soothing, others simply do it themselves and go to sleep. Smacking lips can be one way your baby soothes themselves to sleep. 

So, even after a hearty feed, your little bundle may still smack lips as a soothing mechanism in preparation for sleep.

Baby smacking lips while sleeping? It may well be self-soothing while asleep, or your baby may be dreaming that they are feeding. However, it may also be a sign that the baby is ready for another meal. 

Your baby’s stomach starts as small as a hazel nut and gradually grows.

A stomach as tiny as that cannot hold enough food to sustain the baby throughout the night, and you will need to wake up for feeding at intervals.

baby with fingers in mouth

Baby has gastroesophageal reflux

Referred to as GERD, in short, this is a condition when food comes back up from the stomach, causing your baby to spit up or throw up.

This condition is very common in newborn babies and normally eases up as they grow.

Some of the common symptoms of GERD are fussiness, spitting up, back-arching, loud breathing, coughing and smacking lips.

GERD occurs in both breastfed and bottlefed babies. If you observe and note that your baby is lip-smacking as a result of GERD, do consult a pediatrician. 

A special formula can be given to your baby to remedy this condition. Also, feeding your baby in an upright position may well solve this problem.

Final Thoughts

Now you know that your baby will smack the lips for a myriad of reasons. If you suspect teething, hunger or GERD, be sure to note other signs associated with those conditions so that you solve the problem accordingly. 

As mentioned before, lip-smacking in babies is a common phenomenon that your child will outgrow sooner than you know it.

Just be sure to watch your baby and figure out their patterns and habit so you can get the hang of what all this baby smacking lips thing is all about. 

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