Tongue Tie, Gas & Reflux: How To Cure It Naturally With These Easy Steps!

Tongue Tie, Gas & Reflux - How To Cure It Naturally With These Easy Steps!


I truly believe that every baby should be assessed for latch and tongue.

I'll tell you why...

My daughter was only 16 hours old when I was first asked by a midwife to quieten my baby for fear of disturbing other people. I wasn’t given the help or support I needed that night. And if someone had paid attention, the following 12 months would likely have been VERY different for us. I might have actually enjoyed being a mum...


What is a Tongue Tie?

A tongue tie is when the frenulum, which is a piece of skin under the centre of the tongue, is tight so as to cause a restriction in the movement of a baby's tongue and its function.


How does tongue tie cause gas?

Very simply - yes!

When you understand that gas is air that has gotten into the digestive system, then this automatically becomes gas. It isn't the only source of air in the gut, so don't put all your eggs in this basket just yet.

So, any air that a baby swallows that is not burped out moves through the stomach and into the small intestine. There is only one way out from here, and it's a long way.

Tongue tie often causes babies to swallow more air than they otherwise should do, so this air gets into the stomach and into the gut. Hence, tongue tie can cause gas.


Why are tongue-tie and latch assessments important?

When a potential client phones me in desperation to see if I can help, one of the first questions I ask is,Has your baby been assessed for a Tongue Tie?

I ask this regardless of whether their baby is breast or bottle-fed.

You see, over the last few 7-8 years of reading and researching the infant digestive system, I have learned a thing or two about the basic physiology of our newborns—especially the shape of their mouth and mouth structures.

If a baby has a tongue-tie, she could have reflux (silent or projectile). The thing is, the root cause of this reflux is the tongue. It is the very same if a baby has a poor latch; the reflux could be caused by the latch itself.

Because in both cases, it means that the baby is drinking more air than it should be. This can be a direct cause of reflux.

Again, this applies to bottle and breast-fed infants, maybe even more so to bottle-fed.

I hate the way bottle-fed babies are generally overlooked from a tongue-tie assessment point of view. In fact, many breast-fed babies are missed for tongue-tie, too (speaking from personal experience on this one).


What is tongue-tie/ Ankyloglossia, and why does it matter?

If a baby has a tongue-tie, it means that they cannot physically touch the roof of their mouth with their tongue when their mouth is open. This is particularly relevant to the breast-feeding baby who needs a wide-open mouth for feeding and needs to use their tongue to compress the breast on the roof of the mouth to release milk.

That said, a severe tongue tie can have a similar impact on a bottle-fed infant if they cannot wrap their tongue around the bottle to suck. They will have greater amounts of air in their mouth when feeding.

A severe tongue-tie can have further reaching impacts than just bottle feeding. It can hinder how baby manipulates food when learning how to eat. It can result in poor mixing of food with saliva in the mouth, which in turn impacts how sugars and starches get digested. And it can have massive impacts on a child's speech development!


So why not have this pain-free and quick assessment done for every baby?

Shortly after birth is the best time to do this assessment. However, I firmly believe if there are no tongue-tie issues identified initially, but feeding problems begin or continue, that baby should be assessed again at about 4 or 5 weeks old.

From personal experience, the development of the mouth in the first few weeks can change so much that a mild tongue tie, or no tongue tie, becomes apparent. And in the UK, the NHS will not resolve a tongue tie until the age of 6 weeks.


What is a latch, and why does it matter to both breastfed and bottle-fed babies?

A baby’s latch is the description given to how they attach to the breast for breastfeeding. For me, however, the description needs to include all babies and how they attach to the nipple, be it a breast or a bottle nipple.


Latch and the Bottle-Fed Infant

With bottle-feeding, the bottle teat does not deform to the same extent as breast tissue. As a result, there is more space in the mouth, which is filled with air.

In addition, most bottles have a natural flow rate. This means that the baby does not have to suck as much to get the milk out. This gives an opportunity for air to be in the mouth.

The action of feeding is a reflex (suck-swallow reflex) for newborns, so if there is air in the mouth, it gets swallowed. Baby cannot get a good latch on the bottle teat because of the shape of their mouth and the shape of the bottle teat.

If a baby also has a tongue tie, they cannot physically touch the roof of their mouth with their tongue when their mouth is open. This applies particularly to breastfed infants whose mouth is open wider than that of bottle-fed infants. As said previously, though, a severe tongue-tie in a bottle-fed infant will have a strong impact on their ability to feed properly.


Latch in the breastfed infant.

A baby’s mouth is designed for breastfeeding, designed so that the tongue can press against the roof of the mouth. With breastfeeding, this action allows for the tongue and breast tissue to essentially “fill” the mouth cavity, removing air from the mouth.

Couple this with the action of sucking, which causes the inside of the cheek to be drawn inwards; with a perfect latch, the baby has virtually zero air in their mouth to swallow with their milk.


What happens when a baby drinks too much air?

Basically, wind in their tummy - a cause of reflux alone. No amount of medication is going to “cure” this cause of reflux because the cause still remains there.

So, how do you know if your baby is drinking air? Or too much air? These are some of the signs….

  1. Splutters, coughs or gags during a feed
  2. Gulps when feeding
  3. Possets or vomits a feed
  4. Can hear milk sloshing in my tummy
  5. Milk spills or leaks from the mouth
  6. Squirming and grunting
  7. Lots of wind – up or down
  8. Painful wind or gas
  9. Rumbly tummy
  10. Bloated tummy
  11. Hard tummy
  12. Wants to be in your arms all the time

For some, these symptoms alone are enough for medication to be given. And over 60% of babies on reflux medication still have symptoms.*


So what to do?

This is the million-dollar question.

The first place to start is with my mini course "It's All About the Tongue.", this is the mini-course that explains even more about tongue function and movement, what oral exercises you can be doing with your baby (before you even get a tongue tie assessment because sometimes it isn't about the tie!) before and after a release, and how to support them in developing the proper movement in their tongue. See below for the details.


Breast Fed Babies:

If your baby is breastfed, a lactation consultant, breastfeeding councillor or tongue tie specialist will assess for you and be in a position to resolve it or recommend where you can go to get it resolved if it is severe enough.

In the U.K., you can get a tongue tie assessed and resolved on the NHS for babies under 6 weeks old. After 6 weeks of age, your only option is to go private.

If you’re breastfeeding and your baby has reflux-like symptoms, go to your local breastfeeding clinic /café and ask for a tongue-tie assessment.

If they aren't able to help you fully, or you’ve already had the baby assessed, and they said the baby was fine, and yet feeding is a massive battle, and the baby has lots of gas and wind?

Go again. To be sure. And this time, make sure you are seeing an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). No one else is better equipped or educated to diagnose a Tongue Tie.


What if your paediatrician said it's reflux and not a tongue-tie?

Ask if your paediatrician is certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultants. If not, get your baby checked by an IBCLC.


What if your GP / Health Visitor / Paediatrician all say no Tongue Tie, and your Lactation Consultant says there is one?

Go with the Lactation Consultant. It’s YEARS of training to qualify as an IBCLB. They are the most likely to be right in this case.


Bottle-Fed Babies:

For a bottle-fed baby, I also recommend you find a local tongue tie practitioner and ask them if you can visit and get them to assess your baby.

There are some options open to you to try and reduce the amount of air that your baby is drinking with the milk.

First is to encourage drinking from either a normal glass or cup, a Doidy Cup or a 360-degree cup that requires the baby to suck on the cup to release the drink. Do not introduce bottles with a straw as this increases air swallowed.

By teaching the baby to drink more normally, you may be able to reduce the amount of air he is drinking and, therefore, reduce the reflux episodes that he experiences.


So, how can I help?

In the 'Reflux Free Baby' Workshop, I walk you through all the symptoms you need to observe and record for your baby, what they mean, and how to use them as clues.

I tell you what the clues mean individually and when they occur with other groups of symptoms. 

And this leads us to be able to say what is causing each baby's reflux with much more confidence. 

Based on this, I tell you what specific action to take for them.

To get your baby free from their reflux as quickly as possible, sign up now. You will have your answer within an hour.

Áine x


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