Breastfeeding A Baby With Tongue Tie

Breastfeeding is different for every momma. For some, it just comes natural while others have more difficulty with breastfeeding successfully. There are many methods that help make breastfeeding easier and painless such as proper positioning and latching on. Sometimes, there could be an underlying issue that is causing the problem. A baby with tongue tie could be a problem with breastfeeding.

What is Tongue Tie?

tongue tieSome babies are born with what is known as a tongue-tie. This is an abnormality with the tongue where the connective tissue underneath the tongue that attaches it to the bottom of baby’s mouth is shorter than usual. This causes restriction of the range of motion your baby’s tongue needs to properly latch on. It is more common than you may think and often hereditary. If you had it as a baby there’s a higher chance that your children will be born with it as well.

Tongue Tie Issues

While the condition is generally harmless it could cause problems in some areas based on the degree of the tongue tie, especially in breast-fed infants. A baby with tongue tie may not be able properly latch on due to the limited range of motion. This could be troublesome for the baby and mom as well. A proper latch requires a baby to stick their tongue over the gum line in order to cup the nipple with their mouth. A shortened frenulum prevents the tongue’s ability to do this causing your baby to compress the nipple with their gums, which can lead to sore nipples (OUCH)! Likewise, if your baby isn’t latched on properly due to tongue-tie it could result in slow weight gain or even weight loss as they aren’t able to extract milk sufficiently.

In some severe cases of tongue-tied babies, it can lead to further problems later on if unresolved after baby’s first year. If left untreated, a severe tongue tie could result in speech development problems as well as eating and can even affect their ability to play wind instruments.

Symptoms of Tongue-Tie

The following are possible symptoms and characteristics of tongue-tie. To confirm diagnosis, see your pediatrician for evaluation and treatment.

  • Inability to stick tongue out or difficulty moving it
  • Notched or heart-shaped tongue towards the tip
  • Difficulty latching on or sucking
  • Frequently gets off easily while nursing
  • Makes a clicking sound with tongue while nursing

Treatment for Tongue Tie

For most babies, the issue resolves on its own by baby’s first year. If you are breastfeeding, however, you will want to see your child’s pediatrician long before then for treatment. Treatment typically involves a simple procedure your pediatrician can do in the office where they clip the frenulum to loosen it. It’s moderately painless for the baby and takes only a few seconds to do.

Not all babies with tongue-tie have problems. In fact, some may not experience any issues at all even while nursing. There are other possible factors that can interfere with baby’s ability to latch properly as well. Always consult with your child’s doctor or a lactation consultant regarding feeding problems or concerns.

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