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How to Tell If Your Baby Has Tongue Tie

Tongue tie, medically known as ankyloglossia, is a condition present at birth that restricts the tongue’s range of motion. It occurs when the lingual frenulum, the thin membrane connecting the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth, is shorter or tighter than usual. Some babies may not experience problems. In others, it can cause difficulties with breastfeeding, speech development, and oral health. Recognising the signs if your baby has tongue tie is important for early intervention and proper management.

Signs and Symptoms of Tongue Tie in Babies

Difficulty Breastfeeding

One of the most common signs in infants is difficulty breastfeeding. Babies may struggle to latch properly onto the breast, leading to inefficient feeding and frustration for both the baby and the mother. They may have trouble maintaining a deep latch or may constantly fall off the breast during feeding sessions.

Clicking Sounds While Nursing

Another indicator of tongue tie is the presence of clicking sounds while nursing. If your baby’s tongue is unable to create a proper seal around the nipple, this can result in air being drawn into the mouth during feeding which create clicking noises. This can lead to swallowing of air, causing discomfort and gassiness in the baby.

Poor Weight Gain

Babies with untreated tongue tie may experience poor weight gain due to inadequate feeding. Since they are unable to effectively extract milk from the breast, they may not consume enough nutrients to support healthy growth and development. This can be concerning for parents and may require intervention from a healthcare professional.

Diagnosing Tongue Tie

Diagnosis involves a thorough physical examination of the baby’s mouth by a healthcare professional. They will assess the appearance and mobility of the tongue, as well as the length and attachment of the lingual frenulum. In some cases, a lactation consultant or paediatrician is consulted to evaluate feeding difficulties and assess the need for intervention.

Treatment Options for Tongue Tie


Frenotomy, also known as tongue-tie release or frenectomy, is a simple surgical procedure performed to correct tongue tie. During the procedure, the lingual frenulum is cut or lasered to release the restriction and allow for greater tongue mobility. Frenotomy is usually performed in the outpatient setting and usually results in immediate improvement in feeding and other symptoms.

Exercises and Stretches

In addition to frenotomy, babies may benefit from exercises and stretches to improve tongue mobility and function. These exercises involve gently massaging and stretching the tongue several times a day to prevent reattachment of the frenulum and promote optimal healing.

Speech Therapy

You may be advised to try speech therapy for your baby, especially if they experience speech development issues as they grow older. Speech therapists can provide exercises and techniques to improve tongue strength, coordination, and articulation, helping the child overcome any speech difficulties.

When to Seek Help

It’s important for parents to seek help if they suspect their baby has tongue tie, as early intervention can prevent complications and improve feeding and development outcomes. If you notice any common signs or symptoms in your baby, such as difficulty breastfeeding or speech delays, consult with a healthcare professional for evaluation and management options.

Living with Tongue Tie

While it can present challenges for babies and their families, many children go on to live healthy, normal lives with appropriate intervention and support. However, untreated tongue tie can lead to long-term issues such as dental problems, speech difficulties, and feeding issues. Parents should work closely with healthcare professionals to address any concerns and ensure their child receives the necessary care and support.

Recognizing the signs of tongue tie in your baby is important for early intervention and proper management. By understanding the symptoms and seeking help from healthcare professionals, parents can ensure their child receives the necessary treatment and support. With the right interventions, babies can overcome feeding difficulties and speech delays.


How common is tongue tie in babies?

It is relatively common, occurring in about 4-11% of newborns.

Can tongue tie affect speech development?

Yes, severe cases can impact speech development, leading to articulation difficulties and other speech disorders.

Is tongue tie hereditary?

This may be genetic, but it can also occur spontaneously in newborns.

At what age can tongue tie be treated?

It can be treated at any age, but early intervention is often recommended to prevent feeding and speech issues.

Are there any risks associated with frenotomy?

Frenotomy is a relatively safe procedure, but there are risks of bleeding, infection, and recurrence.

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