How do I get rid of my baby tongue thrust reflex?

Answered by Ricardo McCardle

To get rid of the baby tongue thrust reflex, there are several strategies that can be effective. It’s important to note that every baby is different, so what works for one may not work for another. It may require a combination of techniques and some trial and error to find what works best for your baby. Here are some suggestions:

1. Encourage breastfeeding or bottle feeding: Breastfeeding or bottle feeding requires the baby to use their tongue in a coordinated manner to suck and swallow. This can help strengthen the tongue and minimize the tongue thrust reflex. Make sure the baby has a good latch and is properly positioned during feeding to ensure effective tongue movement.

2. Introduce solid foods: As your baby starts transitioning to solid foods, offer a variety of textures that require the baby to use their tongue in different ways. This can help promote proper tongue movement and eliminate the tongue thrust reflex. Start with soft purees and gradually introduce more textured foods.

3. Offer a variety of textures for oral stimulation: Providing different textures for your baby to explore and orally stimulate can help promote tongue control. You can use a clean finger or a soft, baby-friendly toothbrush to gently massage the baby’s tongue and gums. This can help them become more aware of their tongue movements and reduce the tongue thrust reflex.

4. Use a pacifier sparingly: Pacifier use can sometimes contribute to the tongue thrust reflex, so it’s recommended to use it sparingly. If your baby relies heavily on a pacifier, gradually wean them off it to encourage proper tongue positioning and movement.

5. Consult with a speech therapist or pediatrician: If you’re concerned about your baby’s tongue thrust reflex or if it persists beyond the first year, it’s a good idea to seek professional advice. A speech therapist or pediatrician can assess your baby’s oral motor skills and provide specific exercises or techniques tailored to your baby’s needs.

6. Monitor and correct tongue posture: Pay attention to your baby’s tongue position during awake times. If you notice the tongue constantly resting against the front teeth or pushing forward during swallowing, gently guide the tongue back to a neutral position using a clean finger. Over time, this can help retrain the tongue muscles and eliminate the tongue thrust reflex.

7. Avoid using a bottle with a large nipple hole: Using a bottle with a large nipple hole can cause milk to flow too quickly, leading to a stronger tongue thrust reflex. Opt for a bottle with a slow-flow nipple to encourage the baby to use their tongue more effectively during feeding.

Remember, it’s important to be patient and consistent when working on eliminating the tongue thrust reflex. It may take time for your baby to develop proper tongue control and coordination. If you have concerns or notice no improvement, seeking professional guidance is always recommended.