As your baby grows, you enjoy introducing them to new things. After they reach six months old, you started giving them more normal foods, whether bottled or home mashed, and laughed at their funny reactions. But as you get closer to their first birthday, you notice that they can’t seem to handle more solid foods, like Cheerios or baby crackers, which dissolve very quickly. Perhaps your little one even gags or throws up!
Within a few short months, your child should be off formula, if you’re bottle feeding, and rely on solid foods for nutrition, which means you need to get to the bottom of this problem soon. After a bit of research, you find out about something called a tongue tie. The information below will help you understand this issue and how resolving it can help your baby grow and develop the eating skills they need to thrive.
What Is a Tongue Tie?
While a fetus develops in the womb, a small piece of tissue forms underneath the tongue. Usually this tissue, called a frenulum, disappears before birth, but this step doesn’t happen for all infants. For some babies, the frenulum is especially thick, restricting the tongue’s movement and function.
Most often, a tied tongue is not able to create the proper suction over the nipple of either the mother’s breast or a bottle. However, babies with tongue ties who are bottle fed may get by through biting the nipple instead of achieving suction. Although many parents discover their baby’s tongue tie as a result of breastfeeding struggles, other parents may not run into trouble until the introduction of solid foods.
How the Tongue Affects Eating Solid Foods
Not only can a tongue tie interfere with your baby’s ability to breastfeeding, but it can also complicate eating solid foods. The tongue not only moves food forward and backward within the mouth but also to the sides, where food can be properly chewed for digestion.
When the tongue has a thick or restrictive frenulum, moving food around can be challenging. In fact, it can cause a strong gag reflex, especially for certain types of food textures. As a result, your child could face difficulty in maintaining a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and more.
Resolving Tongue Ties
Fortunately, addressing a tongue tie is actually quite simple—remove the frenulum. This procedure, called a frenectomy, traditionally involved snipping the tissue with a scalpel or surgical scissors, but a soft tissue laser causes much less bleeding and discomfort for the baby. After this treatment, you may need to work with an occupational therapist to help your child use their tongue more efficiently.
Before you know it, your child will be solely dependent on solid foods, so you need to address a restrictive tongue tie as soon as possible. That way they can enjoy a varied diet and enjoy exploring all the amazing food the world has to offer.
About the Practice
For babies and children, Chicago Tongue Tie Center offers a new lease on life by releasing tongue ties. Instead of performing frenectomies the old-fashioned way, we use a soft tissue laser and often don’t need to give a local anesthetic at all because it’s gentle and effective. To meet with one of our board-certified pediatric dentists, Dr. Justin and Dr. Bindi, reach out to our office by calling 312-248-2455 or visit our Contact Us page here.