0 - 12 Months

Identifying a tongue tie

Mother breastfeeding their baby

A tongue tie, medically known as ‘ankyloglossia,’ is a condition that limits the movement of a baby’s tongue and can interfere with their feeding. Our tongues have a membrane underneath them that connects the tip of the tongue to the base of the mouth, and sometimes in babies this tissue can be short, tight, and thick. With a tongue tie, some babies can’t properly achieve the suction needed to efficiently drink milk.

How common are tongue ties?

An estimated 4 to 11% of babies are born with a tongue tie, a condition that was poorly understood until recent years. A tongue tie is not usually something you can spot without precise medical expertise. If you suspect one, a lactation consultant or pediatrician can help determine if a tongue tie is present, and if so, how—and whether—to treat it. 

Potential tongue tie complications

If your baby has a tongue tie, they may:

  • Have trouble latching
  • Not gain weight at the expected rate
  • Feed for long periods, takes short breaks, then feed again
  • Make a clicking sound during feedings
  • Not be able to move their tongue side to side
  • Have a heart or V-shape at the tip of their tongue when it’s stuck out

If you’re breastfeeding, signs of a tongue tie can include painful latching, low or dwindling milk supply, sore nipples, and mastitis. There are other reasons babies have trouble latching, so be sure to check with a lactation consultation or pediatrician if you have concerns.

Common treatment

Not all tongue ties require intervention, as sometimes they don’t interfere with latching. When treatment is recommended, it’s common for a doctor to perform what’s known as a ‘frenotomy’ (or simply a ‘release’). This is typically a simple procedure in infants, often done in a pediatrician’s office or by a specialist, that elevates the tongue to free it up for a greater range of motion. 


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Posted in: 0 - 12 Months, Feeding, Newborn Care, Baby Care, Lovevery App, Child Development

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