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Copy of Unlocking the Mystery of Lip and Tongue Ties in Babies

Kellie Eason IBCLC, BHSc. (Nursing), Post Graduate Diploma in Midwifery

MILK...early parenting support



Sleepy baby in arms of loved ones
Sleepy baby


Let us unlock the mystery of lip and tongue ties in babies.


Did you know that your baby's lip and tongue ties are formed by the time you get your pregnancy test results? This means that they may experience suck dysfunction for several months before they are born.


When feeding, a baby with a lip or tongue tie may have a "tongue thrust" reflex that helps keep their airway open for breathing. However, if they cannot create enough suction for feeding, they may develop maladaptive oral and facial muscle compensations that can lead to problems like chomping, biting, or chewing during feeds, pain and nipple damage during breastfeeding, and suboptimal oral, facial, speech, and dental development.

Whether you breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby, watch out for signs of feeding difficulties such as coughing, gagging, teat collapse or squeaking, slow feeding pace, and low milk intake.


Poor lip seal around the breast or bottle teat can cause gulping, excessive air intake, bloating, reflux, colic, and projectile vomiting in babies. While reflux medication may seem like a solution, it can have harmful side effects like bone fractures, pneumonia, bacterial infections, and reduced absorption of Calcium and Vitamin D, so it is important to discuss this with your doctor.

If your baby has lip or tongue ties, they may experience limitations in their oral and facial structures and the connected muscles and nerves that support them.


Before considering a lip/tongue tie release, your baby should be in the proper neurological state to handle the procedure and aftercare.


An IBCLC experienced with lip/tongue tie support can provide pre-surgical assessment to ensure your baby is a good candidate for surgery and that you and your baby are well prepared.


If surgery is not an option, feeding therapies and pre-surgical oral myofunctional therapy can be supported to improve your baby's feeding, surgical outcomes, and post-surgical aftercare discomfort.

To prepare your baby for surgery, oral motor exercises can be introduced to relax tight muscles and improve brain/muscle coordination and muscle patterning of the mouth.


Our post-surgical oral myofunctional therapy protocol restores mouth to brain function through oral motor (oral neuromuscular) input, which becomes temporarily disrupted post-surgery.


Correcting a baby's sucking, swallowing, and breathing coordination takes at least six weeks to retrain their oral and facial muscle memory. Therefore, we provide oral myofunctional therapy before and after lip/tongue tie release to ensure the best outcomes for your baby's feeding development and overall health.

In summary, whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby, it is important to be aware of the potential effects of lip and tongue ties on their facial, oral, and jaw growth, breathing, sucking, and swallowing. Consult with a qualified professional to assess your baby's condition and explore the best options for their care and recovery.

The author is an IBCLC Lactation Consultant with over 19 years of clinical experience, having previously worked as a nurse and midwife. They have helped over 5000 families with feeding complications due to lip and tongue ties and have supported medical professionals who perform related surgeries. For assistance, you can schedule a Short Telehealth consultation for a quick Q&A session or an Initial Consultation for a full assessment, support, and care planning.




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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

At MILK early parenting support, I strive to be your go-to source for all your parenting needs – from pre-birth to post-birth. I'm a passionate and experienced International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). I love empowering expectant and new parents with all the knowledge and support they need to make the right decisions for their family.

Whether it’s helping you find the best feeding and sleeping strategies, or ensuring that your baby is getting the nutrition they need for optimal growth, I'm here to make sure that you and your baby get the best start in life.

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