Babies who have a tongue-tie can find it harder to feed effectively. A tongue-tie happens when the strip of tissue that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth (the frenulum) is shorter than normal. This can prevent your baby from latching on effectively. Some babies with tongue tie have no problems at all and can latch on and feed well but others struggle which can cause problems for baby and you. If you're struggling or having any difficulties, reach out for support.
Sue Ward, Infant Feeding Lead at Medway Community Healthcare talks to us about tongue-tie and what to do if you think your baby has a tongue tie.
Signs might include:
- your baby's tongue doesn't lift or move from side-to-side
- difficulty breastfeeding or bottle-feeding
- slow weight gain
- your baby seems unsettled and unsatisfied despite frequent, long periods of feeding
- your milk supply may reduce as your baby is not latching on and feeding well
- you may have sore or cracked nipples, which can make breastfeeding painful
- poor latching on and ineffective feeding may lead to engorged breasts, which can then lead to mastitis.
You can’t diagnose a tongue-tie just by looking at the tongue itself. A trained practitioner would assess you and your baby and make a diagnosis and discuss what that means and what will happen next. You’ll be referred to the Specialist Infant Feeding Service, which can offer support to help you feed your baby effectively and refer you for treatment if needed.
If treatment is necessary, your baby will have a straightforward procedure called a 'frenulotomy'. This is carried out by specially trained medical staff. It’s a very quick and simple procedure and generally no anaesthetic is used. The surgery involves snipping the short, tight piece of skin connecting the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. You can feed your baby as soon as it's done, which will help to stop any bleeding and heal the cut.
After the procedure you may be advised to do exercises with your baby such as smiling and pulling tongues to support your baby’s tongue mobility.
Try fun songs that encourage your little one to pull tongues such as the Little Green Frog.