“I have tried many times to express my feelings, but at each attempt, I find myself tongue-tied” -Kate Cary
Did you know that being tongue-tied is something more than just an experience one feels when they struggle to find words? A tongue tie is a small bit of skin tissue, called the frenulum, that attaches the bottom of your tongue to the bottom part of your mouth underneath it. When this frenulum is too short or tight, this is referred to as a tongue-tie.
For a large number of people, a tongue-tie won’t be a problem, but for some, especially babies, it can pose some challenges. While breastfeeding mothers and babies generally experience more challenges from tongue-tie, it can also have impacts on bottle-feeding babies as well.
Signs a breastfed baby may have a tongue-tie:
- A baby may struggle to latch while breastfeeding
- Eat constantly due to insufficient milk during a feed
- Become tired from the effort required to drink enough milk to feel satisfied
- Struggle with weight gain
- Be unable to fully extend, lift, or move their tongue
- Have a slight heart shape on the tip of the tongue when it is extended
A breastfeeding mother may notice some other signs as well:
- Pain due to a poor latch
- Misshapen nipples or nipple pain during and after feedings
- Milk supply difficulties
- Mastitis or engorgement
- Distress due to the difficulty of establishing breastfeeding
- Exhaustion due to such frequent feedings
Signs a bottle-fed baby may have a tongue-tie:
- Slow and frequent feedings
- Trouble creating a seal around the nipple
- Difficulty managing anything but a slow-flowing nipple
There are a number of ways to treat a tongue-tie:
- Tongue-tie division
- Adapt feeding techniques
- Switching from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding
This booklet from Sarah Oakley, a lactation consultant, has helpful information and research about tongue ties, treating them, and the impacts of tongue-tie. Her main website is found at this link.
If your baby has a tongue-tie that is causing feeding problems or other difficulties, know that you are not alone and that support is available!