Can babies typically twist their tongues completely over?
July 10, 2009 7:43 AM   Subscribe

My eight month old daughter can (and frequently does) horizontally rotate her tongue 180 degrees in her mouth. Is this something that children her age can typically do, or should I be negotiating with a circus?

If it's typical, it seems like it should have been easier to find information, except that the web is full of info about ankyloglossia (tongue tie) and every search about infants and their tongues seems to just give results about that.
posted by Mayor Curley to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Many people can do this. It's a matter of muscle control akin to the tongue rolling thing. (Which I can't do, a fact that my family taunts me with periodically.)
posted by elfgirl at 7:49 AM on July 10, 2009


I can do this, and I'm more than three decades older than your daughter. No circuses have come calling yet, and I'm not sure if it is good for anything at all, except maybe kissing.
posted by Forktine at 8:04 AM on July 10, 2009


I can do it too. Make sure she knows, when she's older, that if she demonstrates it in mixed company boys might think she's flirting with them.

No, I don't think you need to know the whole story.
posted by amtho at 8:16 AM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Some people can't do this?
posted by Houstonian at 8:32 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I can do this, too, although I don't think I discovered it until much later.
posted by lunalaguna at 8:32 AM on July 10, 2009


Ditto amtho. On all parts of her note.

I can not only flip my tongue, but do the tongue rolling thing. I was once told that those were two mutually exclusive traits, which, if true, makes me a mutant.
posted by lleachie at 8:32 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Out of pure curiosity: can someone post a link to video of this? I can't picture what y'all are talking about.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:43 AM on July 10, 2009


Lots of people do this, and the tongue tube thing.

and then there is the tongue clover.
posted by HFSH at 8:46 AM on July 10, 2009


I cannot do this but my sister can.
posted by collocation at 9:08 AM on July 10, 2009


But is it something that all babies do and then some people lose the ability?
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:19 AM on July 10, 2009


I don't think it's anything to do with age. Different individuals have different capacities with regard to the movement of their tongues. It's genetic, though apparently not always simple (ie, sometimes twins differ in their ability).
posted by mdn at 9:19 AM on July 10, 2009


Yes, some people can and some people cannot do this. It's sometimes used to teach phenotypes and genetics in biology classes, just like ear-lobe attachment and ability to taste phenylthiocarbamide.

See this scholarly article.

It's a dominant trait, which means that if you can not do it (you lack both genes), then therefore your child's other parent can.
posted by cmiller at 9:35 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some people can do it as babies and lose the ability. Some people can't do it as babies, and learn to do it later. Some people can never do it.

I don't think what she's doing is remotely unusual, and probably not circus worthy. Sorry!
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 9:38 AM on July 10, 2009


It's a dominant trait, which means that if you can not do it (you lack both genes), then therefore your child's other parent can.

I can't, and neither can my wife. If the postman can do it, he's dead meat.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:41 AM on July 10, 2009 [11 favorites]


None of the references cited says that babies can all turn their tongues and then only some adults retain it, so I'm going on the assumption that my daughter is a freak like all of you who said that you could do this. Figures-- she has red hair.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:45 AM on July 10, 2009


I'm being irreverent; you're not freaks, you're GOOD PEOPLE! Thanks for all the answers!
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:51 AM on July 10, 2009


Wow! I just realized that I can do that. I had mutant super powers and didn't even know it. Thanks, MeFi!
posted by Eddie Mars at 10:32 AM on July 10, 2009


I can do this. And roll my tongue. And do the tongue clover. I've even learned how to flip my tongue in the other direction (which some people who can flip their tongue don't seem to be able to do).

I do not perceive this as being freakish. But YMMV.
posted by Lafe at 10:55 AM on July 10, 2009


Do you really mean rotate it 180 degrees? In other words upside-down and flat? I can turn my tongue "on edge", vertically, so 90 degs. 180 sounds pretty unusual?
posted by Iteki at 12:11 PM on July 10, 2009


It's a dominant trait, which means that if you can not do it (you lack both genes), then therefore your child's other parent can.

I can do this, and so can my brother, but neither of our parents can.
posted by srrh at 12:16 PM on July 10, 2009


Do you really mean rotate it 180 degrees? In other words upside-down and flat?

I mean that I noticed it because she stuck the tip of her tongue out at me, I said "what's that extra tissue on her tongue?" and it was just upside down.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:11 PM on July 10, 2009


Actually, it may be only tongue folding (V-shape) that is a simple phoenotype. Or my ancient knowledge may be full of holes. I did complete 34 solar circumnavigations this very morning.
posted by cmiller at 2:14 PM on July 10, 2009


I can fold and roll. I can't clover, but I can split and splitting is way more useful!

As a little kid it means you can entertain your friends by making your tongue resemble a butt.

As a teenager, you can add a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to your slumber party ghost stories, by pretending to have been posessed by the devil and proving it because you suddenly have a forked tongue!

As an adult you can spice up a lacklustre kiss with the sudden addition of what feels like an extra tongue!

(Although my experience has mostly been that the first time it doesn't so much spice things up as freak people out.)

Anybody else here who can split?
posted by the latin mouse at 2:42 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's probably also worth mentioning that this is totally developmentally appropriate exploration for an 8-month-old. She's likely just finding out what neat things she can do when she tries to take control of all of her different muscles and movements... I taught my 2 nieces how to blow raspberries very early to help them along in their discoveries. ;)
posted by so_gracefully at 10:08 PM on July 10, 2009


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