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The Truth About Tongue Ties

Having a tongue-tied baby is not a new phenomenon, but what is the current situation? Are all babies tongue-tied? The answer is no, but it does affect nearly 5 percent of all new-borns. Tongue tie is an old term I’ve been familiar with since my nursing degree at the university. However, this common condition was often overlooked due to the increasing number of babies being bottle-fed with formula, the decline of breastfeeding culture, and low breastfeeding rates. 

So, what is the reason behind this? Are we experiencing a mutation? Is it true that the number of babies with this condition is increasing? Moreover, is it necessary to treat all babies with a tongue tie? Let’s explore these questions in this blog post, where I will provide you, as a new parent, with the most important things to know about tongue ties. We will cover what tongue ties are, how to identify them using my ‘Top 8 Signs’, and how to seek professional evaluation.

What is a tongue tie?

Tongue tie, or ankyloglossia is a Greek term derived from “agkilos” meaning curved, and “glossa”, meaning tongue. It refers to a condition where the strip of skin connecting your baby’s tongue to the bottom of their mouth is shorter than usual. It is three times more common in boys than girls and often runs in families.

Research has shown that a significant number of infants with breastfeeding problems have tongue ties. However, even bottle-fed babies may require treatment if necessary. Depending on the severity, tongue ties can be associated with oral and dental problems because food may not be cleared away naturally by the tongue. They can also occasionally interfere with speech, later in life. 

How do I know if my baby has a tongue tie? 

You might be examining your own tongue now, wondering if you have a tongue tie. The truth is, many babies and adults have this frenulum, but it does not cause any issues because it does not restrict tongue movement.  The problem arises when your baby cannot stick their tongue out as far as they should or lift it up very far. 

There is an abundance of information online about tongue ties, types, etc… so let’s focus on practicality. Here are my top 8 signs to suspect that your baby may have a tongue tie: 

My first 8 Top Signs to suspect your baby may have a tongue tie

As mentioned earlier, not all babies with a tongue tie require treatment. It is not solely based on appearance, but also on how the tongue functions. I have seen babies with mild tongue ties that needed treatment, as well as severe ones that were highly flexible and did not require treatment. Let’s now explore my top 8 signs: 

  1. Your baby has difficulty latching onto your breast or struggles to stay latched on, frequently coming off and on.
  2. You hear a clicking sound while nursing, indicating that your baby is swallowing excessive air and experiencing gas and wind. 
  3. Your baby falls asleep on your breast during every feed and does not unlatch spontaneously. 
  4. Your baby wants to feed very often and never seems satisfied after feeding, resulting in long feeding sessions that sometimes blend into the next. 
  5. Despite frequent feeding, your baby does not gain weight or gains very slowly, not following the growth percentiles. 
  6. You experience nipple soreness, redness, cracks of bleeding nipples. If your baby cannot open his mouth wide enough, it can be painful as he only suck on your nipple instead of part of the areola. 
  7. You are at higher risk of plugged ducts or mastitis because your baby struggles to effectively drain your breast during a feed. 
  8. Feeding issues and weight loss can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health, leading to fatigue and being overwhelmed.

In conclusion, I hope this blog post equips you with useful tools to recognise if your baby has a tongue tie or at least helps you differentiate between normal signs and those that require attention. 

If you suspect a tongue tie, it is crucial to seek help from an IBCLC lactation consultant who is trained and qualified to diagnose the condition. Unfortunately, many professionals attempt to diagnose tongue ties without possessing the required skills and knowledge, which is beyond their scope of practice. 

And remember, it is not just about how it looks but also about how it functions. If you are interested in a tongue-tie assessment for your newborn baby, contact me on

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