Tongue-Tie and Signs to Look Out For

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Tongue-tie affects around 4-11% of newborns and is more common in boys than girls. Tongue-tie is where the piece of skin connecting the baby’s tongue to the bottom of their mouth is shorter normal.

Tongue-tie doesn't bother some babies and you may not even know they have it. It is sometimes only noticed during routine baby checks or it may restrict movement and cause feeding issues.

Signs of Tongue-Tie

  • Difficulty feeding
  • Difficulty lifting tongue up or moving it from side to side
  • Difficulty sticking tongue out
  • Their tongue looks notched or heart-shaped when they stick it out
baby stick tongue out tongue-tie test

Breastfeeding Issues

To breastfeed successfully baby needs to latch on to both the breast and the nipple. Their tongue needs to cover the lower gum so that the nipple is protected from damage.

Babies with tongue-tie aren’t able to open their mouths wide enough to latch on properly.

If you’re breastfeeding your baby and they have tongue-tie they may;

  • Have difficulty attaching to the breast or staying attached for a full feed
  • Feed for a long time, have a short break, then feed again
  • Be unsettled and seem to be hungry all the time
  • Not gain weight as quickly as they should
  • Make a ‘clicking’ sound as they feed

Tongue-tie can also sometimes cause problems such as sore or cracked nipples, low milk supply and mastitis.

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Treating Tongue-Tie

If your baby can feed without problems treatment isn’t needed. If feeding is affected treatment involves a simple procedure called 'tongue-tie division'.

Tongue-tie division is carried out by a specially trained doctor, nurse or midwife and involves cutting the short, tight piece of skin connecting the tongue to the floor of the mouth. It’s a really quick,  simple and almost painless procedure that usually helps feeding problems straight away.

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