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I think my baby has a tongue tie: Signs & Symptoms of Tongue Ties in Newborns

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

If you think your newborn might have a tongue tie, stick around because today we’re going to talk about common signs and symptoms of tongue ties in newborns!

Hey! I’m Jaimie, Air Force Wife, Homeschooling Mama of 4, nurse, doula, and lactation consultant. My mission is to help MamaBears like you breastfeed with a sense of peace and confidence! Today I wanted to share some of the signs and symptoms of tongue ties in babies!

Information on tongue tie and breastfeeding is near and dear to my heart because I almost gave up on breastfeeding because of poor support and little information when my baby had a tongue tie. Eight years later I've successfully managed tongue ties in all four of my children and I've become an IBCLC helping other families navigate tongue ties in their babies.

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Three Common Signs of Tongue Tie in Newborns

Breastfeeding Challenges Could Be From Tongue Tie

It sounds like I’m saying every breastfeeding issue is because of a tongue tie. It’s not.

But most breastfeeding issues COULD be because of a tongue tie. Breastfeeding challenges can have many different causes, so if you’re experiencing ANY breastfeeding issues, you really need to check in with a lactation consultant to get to the bottom of it. While some pediatricians are knowegable about tongue ties and breastfeeding, the truth is most pediatricians are not trained in identifying functional breastfeeding issues or managing them. So even if your pediatrician reassures you there is nothing to worry about, they should refer all breastfeeding problems to lactation. If they aren't, you can usually self-refer to a local or virtual lactation consultant.

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Colic & Reflux caused by Tongue Tie

Colic and Reflux are often diagnosed in babies, but the truth is neither of these conditions exists as a diagnosis. Instead these conditions are SYMPTOMS of a deeper issue. That could be oral ties, allergies, or something else all together.

When a baby has a tongue tie though, they usually have a lot of body tension along with that. That tension can cause discomfort that leads to near constant crying and crankiness – aka colic. This tension can present itself as an asymmetric face shape, head shape, body curl, torticollis, etc.

Additionally, when a baby has a tongue tie, they will usually struggle to coordinate sucking, swallowing, and breathing with either a bottle or the breast. This often results in ingesting air, which can cause symptoms that appear as reflux. This discomfort can also lead to colicky behavior.

If your baby is colicky or has reflux, make sure you’re working with a lactation consultant to ensure feeding isn’t contributing to the problem. Many times I work with babies who have been put on reflux meds only for their symptoms to not improve OR even get worse, once they make feeding changes and begin working on the ties, the problem starts getting BETTER. Medication should NEVER be the first line of defense with reflux.

Breathing Issues: Snoring, Open Mouth Breathing

It is so dang adorable when those little babies fall asleep mouth wide open with that little kitten snore isn’t it? Unfortunately, as cute as it is, it’s actually a sign that they can’t breathe properly. Breathing through the nose (without snoring!) is really important for many reasons. But when a babies tongue isn’t properly positioned in their mouth, they can’t breathe through their nose when they sleep, so they end up snoring and or mouth breathing. If your baby is snoring and mouth breathing, especially in conjunction with the other symptoms listed, I highly recommend consulting with a lactation consultant who specializes in tongue tie management.

Visual Signs of Tongue Tie

While a lot of diagnosing a tongue tie revolves around how the tongue works (or doesn't!), there are some visual cues your baby could have a tie. You might notice dimpling in the tongue or a heart or V shaped tip. You could notice skin that seems to be impairing the tongues range of motion. Your baby could show an inability to stick tongue out or lift it to the pallet. Another common visual sign of tongue tie is white coating on the tongue that parents may assume is thrush, but turns out to be residual milk from an inability to clear the Tongue against the pallet.

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I hope this helped answer some of your questions about tongue ties in newborns. If you are having a baby soon or struggling with breastfeeding, I wanted to let you know of three ways you can get free breastfeeding support now! 1. You can take my free online breastfeeding basics class. This will make sure you have a strong foundation of breastfeeding knowledge to make any small or simple changes that may help you with breastfeeding

2. Check out my blog over at - I have tons of tips on birth and breastfeeding

3. Check to see if your health insurance is working with The Lactation Network for Free Breastfeeding Support Visits. If they are, you can schedule a telehealth lactation consultation with me with no out of pocket cost! If your insurance is not working with TLN, I have a variety of options for you. Tricare East families qualify for free telehealth support, Tricare West and Medicaid patients qualify for 15% off their lactation consult. Everyone else is able to use FSA/HSA funds to cover their consults, and if you check your coverage through TLN and are denied, I’ll offer you a 5% cash discount as a courtesy (but you have to check through TLN first!!! I get notified of all denials and approvals)

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