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

how to stop baby from biting lower lip

Babies are always doing something odd like pulling their hair, jerking randomly, or making funny faces. When you notice your baby sucking their bottom lip for the first time, you might be tempted to pull out your camera because they look so cute, right?

However, after a while, you may start getting concerned, especially if it happens every day. Sucking the bottom lip is common baby behavior and sometimes harmless. On the other hand, it can turn out to be harmful if it’s excessive over a long time.

As a parent, it’s normal to want to find a solution. Before you figure out how to help your baby stop sucking their bottom lip, you might want to find out why it’s happening. The reason mostly depends on their age and stage of development.

baby chewing their lower lip

Self-soothing

Babies instinctively use different techniques to self-soothe and biting their lower lip is one of them. While in the womb, some babies suck their thumbs for play.

When they are born, their hands are harder to reach, so they suck their bottom lip which they can reach instantly.

Newborns tend to self-soothe when they are tired, sleepy, or left alone by a parent or caregiver. In this case, the lip acts much like a pacifier.

In some cases, you may not physically see your baby self-soothing because they only do it in their sleep or when you’re away. You’ll see signs like an unexplained rash around their lip.

Teething

Teething is usually a stressful time for both parent and baby. While most babies start drooling and exploring their mouths at around 3 months old, their first teeth don’t cut until around 6 months old.

When a baby’s teeth start growing through their gums, they feel uncomfortable because it’s itchy and irritating.

Your efforts to soothe your infant by carrying him around or rocking him might help only to a minimal extent. This is because you aren’t directly soothing their gums.

Usually, it’s the lower front incisors that grow out first. That’s why your baby will suck their bottom lip to ease the discomfort or pain on the gum.

Hunger

Babies are different and not all of them will cry when they’re hungry. You might notice your baby sucking on bottom lip like they are sucking a nipple, especially when it’s nearly time for their next feed.

Sometimes your baby might cue their hunger this way more often than usual because they are going through an intense period of growth, also known as a growth spurt.

Between 4 and 6 months, don’t be surprised if your baby does this while other people are eating nearby. It’s a sign that they like the smell and would like to try some solid food.

Some babies start eating solid food at 4 months. Don’t wean your baby before you speak to a pediatrician especially if he isn’t 6 months old yet.

Sensory Development Milestone

At 2 months old, a baby’s brain can make sense of their bodies as the first step to other developmental milestones.

The University of Washington Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) conducted a study that revealed more neurological activity associated with touching the lips of an infant than any other body part.

This striking brain signal could be a reason why your child keeps biting bottom lip.

baby biting bottom lip

Stress or Overstimulation

When babies are overstimulated, they get stressed and cranky. When they are in an unfamiliar environment or too many people carrying them in a short period, they may get anxious and start sucking or biting their lip.

Practice

As part of normal childhood growth and development, your baby might simply be practicing how to use their mouth when they eventually start eating.

Signs of Baby Sucking Lower Lip

You may not have seen your infant sucking their lip probably because they do it in your absence. Maybe you leave them with a caregiver most of the day or they do it at night while they sleep.

Sometimes you don’t see any signs but some parents might notice a few changes. So, what are the signs that your little one is sucking their lip?

Bruise around Lip

If your baby sucks their lip hard, you’ll notice a bruise on or below their lower lip. At first, it will appear as a red mark then it will turn purple.

Chapped Lip

Your baby will have a chapped area surrounding their lower lip. The skin will be cracked and appear lumpy and dark pink or red.

How to Soothe Lip Irritation

Infant-Safe Lip Balm

For minor lip irritation like chapped lips, you can simply apply a baby-safe lip balm. Anything that you put close to your baby’s mouth must be safe just in case they swallow it – which they usually do.

If you’re not sure which type to buy, consult a pediatrician for a reliable recommendation.

Natural Oils

Natural remedies like coconut oil can help heal the affected area quickly by keeping the saliva from touching the affected skin.

Keep in mind that some babies might be allergic to coconut oil so you might want to talk to a doctor or take an allergy test beforehand.

Does Your Baby Have Dermatophagia?

Dermatophagia is a psychological disorder in which a person compulsively bites their skin, specifically their fingers and hands. People suffering from this condition gnaw, chew, and eat their skin, leaving it damaged and bloody.

The good news is that infants are too young to be diagnosed with this disorder, so sucking their fingers and lips does not mean they have it.

Can Sucking Bottom Lip Affect Your Baby?

This behavior may not cause any serious issues for your baby if it goes on only for a couple of months. However, it may have negative effects on their development if it continues for over a year.

Dental Concerns

Continuously sucking the lower lip can result in an overbite where the upper lip and teeth overlap the lower teeth beyond normal.

This can eventually cause difficulty in chewing. In severe cases, the misalignment will cause the lower teeth to come in contact with the upper gum line resulting in possible gum damage.

Speech Issues

Speech problems may develop if your baby continues with this behavior beyond one year old. When they start talking, it may be difficult for them to pronounce words correctly because their lip is in the way. This may require intense speech therapy.

how to stop baby from biting lower lip

How to Stop Baby From Biting Lower Lip

Most babies outgrow this behavior within a few months. However, if they suck incessantly and develop lesions, you may have a reason to be concerned.

Now that you know the possible effects of this behavior (which are not typical), it might be a good idea to nip it in the bud while you still can, with these ideas:

Feed Baby in Time

If your little one cues their hunger by sucking their lip, feed them as soon as you notice it. Make an effort to feed them in time so that they don’t have to alert you first.

If they are going through a growth spurt, be prepared in advance for their more regular feeding.

Pacifier

Pacifiers remind newborns of how it felt in the womb. This is a great way to soothe your baby and satisfy their suck reflex without involving his lips.

The pacifier provides comfort to babies, helps them control their emotions, and makes them feel relaxed and secure.

Teething Remedies

After establishing that your cranky cutie is sucking because they are teething, it’s time to find an alternative to the lip. Biting on a cold washcloth or teething toy (kept in the refrigerator, not freezer) will do the trick.

If the baby is over 6 months, give them some icy cold water. Stay away from teething gels and silicone necklaces, as the FDA deems most of them unsafe.

RELATED: Complete Buyers Guide On Best Baby Teething Necklaces

Entertainment as a Distraction

Some babies are simply bored and suck their lips to entertain themselves. Offer alternative entertainment like playtime with their favorite toys or cartoons on TV with lots of dancing and singing.

Other Mouth Movements in Baby’s View

Babies between 6 and 8 months tend to imitate an adult’s facial expressions. Try an expression with your lips like blowing them a kiss or a whistling expression.

If you do this often, they will copy you. Who knows, they might decide that it’s way cooler than sucking their lip.

Bottom Line

Babies suck their bottom lip for various reasons like hunger and teething. Generally, this behavior shouldn’t worry you. In most cases, they outgrow it quickly. However, be alert just in case any serious symptoms arise.

Where applicable, help your baby stop this habit with a pacifier, teething remedies, or entertainment. Also, keep in mind that if it goes on for too long it may result in an overbite which is hard to correct.

So, if your little one is still at it past 8 months, it’s time to visit the pediatrician.

RELATED POSTS

What Does It Mean When a Baby Looks Through Their Legs?

Why Do People Put Baby On Board Signs On Their Vehicles?

When Can My Baby Start Using A Baby Jumper?

What To Do When Milk Comes From The Baby’s Nose

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top