Infant Tongue Tie

You may have heard the term “tongue tie” in relation to infant feeding, but what does it actually mean? Is it something you need to be concerned about with your baby?

A tongue tie is an unusually tight, short or thick flap of skin below the tongue, called a frenulum. A tied frenulum can restrict the movement of the tongue, which can then cause problems with feeding and sucking.  

Tongue ties can be linked to a number of issues, including

  • nipple pain
  • inefficient milk removal
  • low milk supply
  • poor weight gain in babies
  • a poor or painful latch

They are often accompanied by lip ties (when the frenulum attaches the upper lip to the gum and palate in a way that makes it difficult to breastfeed).

There are different degrees of severity in tongue ties, too. Some don’t make a difference at all when breastfeeding, while others can cause issues.

If you suspect your baby has a tongue tie:

•  Have your infant evaluated by a breastfeeding specialist like an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant); some pediatricians are knowledgeable, but others are not.

•  Seek out support. Thanks to social media, there are now many support groups where people can learn about tongue ties and get support in their breastfeeding journeys.

•  Ask about possible solutions. Tongue ties can often be revised (or released) by pediatricians, oral surgeons or pediatric dentists. Research shows that the release of the tongue and/or lip ties can improve breastfeeding significantly.

See also ...

• A good latch

• Soothing tender nipples

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This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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