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Reflux or Gassy Baby? It could actually be Tongue Tie!

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While there are four types of tongue-tie in babies, tongue-tie –or baby being born with a slightly limited range of motion in the tongue- is rarely serious.  Additionally, it is much more common than generally thought.  And while tongue-tie is typically very easy to fix, it does lead to frustrating feeds because baby is not able to get a strong latch on breast or bottle.

Written by Karen King, PCD-DONA, CLC and LMS Staff

Baby

While there are four types of tongue-tie in babies, tongue-tie –or baby being born with a slightly limited range of motion in the tongue- is rarely serious.  Additionally, it is much more common than generally thought.  And while tongue-tie is typically very easy to fix, it does lead to frustrating feeds because baby is not able to get a strong latch on breast or bottle.

Babies with tongue tie are able to drink, but not as efficiently as they could be.   They are getting enough milk/formula to keep them interested in feeding and often fall asleep before they are full because they are working so hard to get milk.  Additionally they may take in unnecessary air, due to their limited latch, which causes them to have excess gas and a reflux misdiagnosis.

Posterior tongue-tie is the most common presentation of  tongue tie, and there are three quick ways to tell if baby is tongue-tied.  If any of the three below is present, ask a pediatrician for an ear, nose & throat referral so the ENT doctor can give baby a proper diagnosis and help.

Ways to tell if baby has a Posterior Tongue Tie:

1.Give baby your pinky and let her suck on the tip to see what her latch looks like.  If the back of her tongue goes up in a little hump, that is indicative of tongue tie.  A proper latch will be tongue enveloping your pinky, where her tongue wraps around the pinky.

2. For breastfeeding moms, examine your nipple- if a red circular spot is present on your nipple, it indicates baby’s tongue is rubbing back and forth in that one area which shows TT.   There is enough milk coming out to keep baby feeding but perhaps not enough to satiate baby.

3. Sweep your pinky under baby’s tongue.  If you feel a bump where the side-to-side sweep is interrupted, that can be indicative of tongue-tie.  If the underside of her tongue is smooth she is not tongue-tied.

Tongue-tie is one of those things in babies that we may not find unless we really look. Once it is corrected baby will nurse and bottle-feed much more efficiently.

For more information, please visit the AAP’s fact sheet on tongue-tie.

Image Credit: © Carlan | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

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