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  • Writer's pictureAnnika Brindley

Does Your Baby Have a Tongue Tie?

Baby with a tongue tie opening mouth

Lily is the Mother of the sweetest six-month-old baby named Mia. She is a member of a fantastic group of parents I coach in my Little Sleepers Coaching Circle support group for Little Sleeper's graduates.

Our Circle meets monthly to discuss sleep; developmental milestones; feeding concerns; socialization; sibling issues; co-parenting; and more.

Last month Lily brought up that Mia has been having difficulty feeding; she often only takes 2-3 oz of milk per feeding and pulls off the breast before her feed is finished. Mia's feeding challenges have been hard for everyone and, of course, have impacted her sleep.

Mia was initially diagnosed with Acid Reflux (GERD), and Mia's doctor recommended she eat more solid food.

Gwen, another wonderful Mom in our Coaching Circle, suggested that Lily bring Mia in to see the doctor again because her baby, Lola, had the same feeding issue when she was Mia's age. Lola was also initially diagnosed with Acid Reflux but had an undiagnosed tongue tie.

Lily took Mia back to the pediatric practice and discovered that her baby did have a tongue tie. Thank goodness for Gwen and the fabulous Moms in our Coaching Circle!

What is a tongue tie?

A tongue tie, or Ankyloglossia, is a condition that occurs when the thin strip of tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth (called the frenulum) is abnormally short or tight; this can limit the movement of the tongue, making it difficult to speak, eat, or even swallow properly.

In severe cases, it can also lead to dental problems, sleep apnea, or difficulty breastfeeding in infants. The condition can be treated with a simple surgical procedure called a Frenectomy, which involves snipping or releasing the frenulum to improve tongue mobility.

How Do I Know if My Baby Has a Tongue-tie?

Knowing whether your baby or child has a tongue tie can be challenging, Mainly because parents do not always know to look for a tongue tie if their baby has difficulty feeding or to ask their child's pediatrician.

We hear a lot about feeding issues stemming from babies having Acid Reflux (GERD), but sometimes a feeding problem arises from a child having a tongue tie. It is best to visit your pediatrician and have them do an exam.

Some signs that your baby/child has a tongue tie:

  • Difficulty latching to or staying on the breast

  • Problems with feeding and swallowing

  • Breastfeed constantly to try to get enough milk

  • Not gaining weight

  • They are very fussy when milk flow slows down

  • A baby is unwilling to breastfeed

  • Clicking noises during feeding

  • Frequent small feeds

  • The baby/child has difficulty sticking their tongue out, or when they do, it looks like a heart shape at the end.

How is a tongue tie treated?

The most common procedure to release the tongue tie is called a Frenotomy. A Frenotomy is a surgical procedure to "release" the frenulum. Doctors report that your child's tongue will be able to move freely for the first time, and feeding will get easier although may feel unusual to them at first!

Will my baby be able to eat after the Frenotomy?

It may take a couple of days for your child to eat well. They now have to adjust to a tongue that can move around freely. It may be an entirely different feeling to them at first. Do not worry about feeding; most pediatricians say children can eat right after the procedure. Be sure to follow your pediatrician or pediatric dentist's recommendations.

If you suspect that your baby may have a tongue tie, it's essential to consult with your pediatrician or a lactation consultant, or a pediatric dentist. They can help determine if your baby has a tongue tie and provide guidance on appropriate treatment options.


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