What to Know About Tongue-Tie

April 10, 2014

Tongue-tie is one hidden hindrance that can make breastfeeding difficult or even impossible for some moms and babies. When a baby has tongue-tie, their frenulum (the piece of skin that connects their tongue to the floor of their mouth) is too short and restricts the movement of their tongue. This can lead to breastfeeding issues because baby may have a hard time creating a good latch.

Why is baby’s tiny tongue such a big deal? The infant tongue plays an important role in latching because baby needs to move their tongue forward and over their lower gum in order to draw the nipple deeply into their mouth. If baby’s tongue can’t move freely over their gums, they might not be able to create and maintain a seal, which can hinder their ability to remove milk from the breast. For moms, this can be very painful and can even lead to cracked and bleeding nipples because baby is latched poorly and chewing rather than sucking on the nipple.

Because babies with tongue-tie may not be able to get enough milk, they might want to breastfeed every hour or more, but then get fussy and cry after feeding because they’re not satisfied. In turn, mom can develop low supply issues due to baby not fully emptying the breasts.

Here’s the good news: Tongue-tie is easily treated by a safe and simple procedure to release the frenulum. If you think your baby may have tongue-tie, reach out to a Lactation Consultant or your pediatrician. They can help identify and treat tongue-tie, and create a plan for breastfeeding success.

How did you manage breastfeeding a little one with tongue-tie? Share with us in the comments below.

19 thoughts on “What to Know About Tongue-Tie

  1. My Son and I had a very challenging time breastfeeding. The entire hospital stay (which was longer due to a c section) the nurses and lactation consultant at the hospital tried to help with getting my Son to get a good latch to nurse. One of the nurses even checked for tongue tie being my husband is tongue tied and didn’t come to the conclusion that he was. After 1 week my Son had lost an entire pound due to not being able to nurse. And I was in a ton of pain due to cracked and bleeding nipples. This resulted in a very strict nursing schedule to get his weight back up with help of a nipple shield. This worked very well for his weight but he was still not able to nurse without it. One day when my Son was crying I noticed his tongue was heart shaped at the tip. After research and advice for a LC at the WIC office we determined he was in fact tongue tied. The pedi at the clinic took a look at his tongue and we had it clipped that same day. With the help of tylonal and continuing to nurse with the shield my Son recovered fast. It took quite a while to retrain him to nurse correctly after learning the wrong way. We pulled through. I eventually weened him off the shield. So glad I had his frenulum clipped. It’s been 6 months and we are still successfully nursing thanks to much BF education and research, the Medela nipple shield and help through the WIC office. Never give up! It’s so worth it to work through challenges!
    Medela products work great. I also for the first 3 months had to pump an once before each time I nursed as a result to my over supply syndrome/ fore milk hind milk imbalance. The Medela hand pump worked great for when we were out and about.

    • Hi Jen,

      We’re so happy to hear that you were able to get the breastfeeding support you needed! It’s an honor to be a part of your journey and we appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback with us. Keep up the amazing work!


  2. Both of my children are tongue-tied. I nursed my daughter 14 1/2 months and my son is 11 months old and I am still nursing him. My pediatrician recommended I not get their tongues clipped because they were nursing fine. The first few weeks my nipples were cracked and bled but that went away fairly quickly.

    • Hi Cathy,

      Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with tongue-tie. We’re so happy to hear that you were able to successfully breastfeed your daughter for over a year (and are on track to do the same with your son). Keep up the great work!


  3. Kim Lehman says:

    We had both tongue and lip tie released at 4 days old. Our LC recommended a local plastic surgeon who helps many babies in our area. It was a quick procedure that didn’t bother her at all, though she was not happy about having fingers in her mouth. That’s the part that made her cry! Now she’s 10 months old and still nursing.

    • Hi Kim,

      Nice job breastfeeding for 10 months! Thank you for sharing your experience with your little one’s tongue-tie procedure.


  4. Both of my sons were tongue tied! Right away I noticed that feeling of being ‘chewed’ with my second. We were able to have his frenulum clipped that same day while in the hospital. I was already damaged so I used a nipple shield for a week while I healed & it has been perfect ever since. My first son the lactation consultant did not catch it & being a first time mom I didn’t know anything about tongue tie. The pediatrician found it & clipping was delayed until I couple get him into an ENT. He never nursed well & was used to bottles. Eventually I had to exclusively pump. Get it clipped as soon as possible!

    • Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for sharing your story. We’re happy to hear that you recognized the signs of tongue-tie with your second son. Fantastic job with exclusive pumping and breastfeeding!


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