Tongue and Lip Ties: What to Look For and What You Can Do About It

Tongue and lip ties are not uncommon in babies, and – if left untreated – can cause issues with speech and oral health later on. However, they may not always be immediately physically visible, and that's why it's important to know the other symptoms to look for.

Tongue tie is when the frenulum, the skin that attaches the tongue to the bottom of the mouth, is too short. With lip tie, the lip is tethered too tightly to the gums, which doesn't allow for good positioning for establishing a latch. Here are four of the most common signs your baby may have a tongue or lip tie.

tongue and lip tie

Excessive gassiness

All babies have gas from time to time, but if it seems like your baby is always struggling with a rumbling belly or shows other signs of gassiness such as pulling their legs up to their belly a lot, it may be due to a tongue or lip tie. A tie keeps the baby from being able to get good suction at the breast or on a bottle, which means they take in a lot more air than they should.

Latch issues

Tongue and lip ties are often discovered after a mother tries to breastfeed and starts experiencing problems with the baby's latch. It's very common for there to be a popping or clicking noise while nursing or for the baby to pop on and off the breast a lot. The baby may also have issues keeping a pacifier or bottle in their mouth. These latch issues can also cause symptoms in the mother, including sore or cracked nipples and plugged ducts or even mastitis due to the breast not being emptied effectively.

{ MORE: Sibling Preparation Classes: Are They Right For Your Little One? }

Poor weight gain

While all children grow at their own rates, slow weight gain can be a sign that a tongue or lip tie is keeping the baby from being able to get the nutrition they need. When the baby can't get a good latch, they can get frustrated, leading them to just refuse to eat or to not ever empty the breast enough to get the fattier milk that comes at the end of the nursing session.

{ MORE: My Baby Won't Stop Biting While Breastfeeding: Tips to Navigate this Frustrating Experience }

Sleeping problems

This one goes for both baby and mom. Babies who have tongue or lip ties aren't able to nurse as effectively which means they have to eat more often to compensate. While breastfed babies are best fed on demand and may not line up with the traditional bottle-feeding schedule, if your child is still nursing every 2 hours at 6 months old and you've ruled out a cluster feeding growth spurt, there might be an underlying issue.

Next steps

If you suspect your baby has a tongue or lip tie, it's a good idea to bring it up at your next scheduled doctor's appointment. If you're breastfeeding and it's impacting your baby's ability to create good suction or get enough milk, you may want to call your pediatrician or see a lactation consultant as soon as possible. Once your child has been diagnosed, taking care of it is usually just a quick procedure that can be done right in the doctor's office.

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Tongue and Lip Ties: What to Look For and What You Can Do About It

Katelynne has been trying to get the hang of this raising kids thing since 2007 but spends most of her time wondering who stole her copy of Parenting 101. When she’s not playing referee for her two children or writing all the words, she fantasizes about a full night’s sleep, uninterrupted showers, and triple venti caramel macchiatos with coconut milk. ... More

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