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Tongue-tie in newborn babies can affect both breast-feeding and bottle-feeding

Tongue-tie release is performed by one of our dual-qualified female surgeons who has three children of her own 

Tongue-tie release in newborns

If a baby has a tongue-tie, they may not be able to extend or lift their tongue or move it from side to side.  Some will be able to lift the sides, but not the tip (v-shaped tongue). Some will be unable to lift the posterior of the tongue (bowl-shaped tongue). In babies where their frenulum extends all the way to the tip, the tongue may look heart-shaped.

Tongue-tie can affect both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. For some babies, the effects will be quite mild. For others, tongue-tie can make feeding extremely challenging or even impossible.

In order to breastfeed, a baby needs to be able to open their mouth wide, extend their tongue over their bottom lip and scoop the breast into their mouth. Then the tongue needs to massage the breast in a wave-like motion to remove milk from the breast.  

If your baby has a tongue-tie and you are breastfeeding, you might experience one or more of the following in your baby:

  • difficulty in latching

  • difficulty in maintaining a latch

  • a shallow latch

  • clamping down on the breast

  • clicking noises while feeding

  • unsettled behaviour during feeds

  • frequent or long feeds

  • poor weight gain or excessive early weight loss

  • colic/wind/hiccups/reflux.  


If you are breastfeeding your baby and they have tongue-tie, you might find your nipples are sore and appear squashed after a feed, often appearing ridged, lipstick-shaped, flattened or blanched. If your baby isn’t draining your breasts adequately, this can lead to engorgement, blocked ducts and mastitis. It can also have a negative effect on your milk supply. Feeds which are long or frequent can be very tiring.

If you are bottle-feeding your baby, you might notice one or more of the following – your baby:

  • is very slow to take a bottle

  • chomps on the teat

  • needs to be fed very often in order to get enough milk

  • dribbles a lot during feeds

  • tends to push the bottle teat out

  • gags on feeds even when you slow the feed down

  • can only manage a teat that has a very slow flow.

Our team of oral surgeons have thousands of hours of operating experience which enables them to approach a tongue-tie release carefully and effectively for the baby. Tongue-tie release procedures are performed by our female surgeon Dr Elle Carey who is trained both in medicine and oral surgery. Plus she has three-children of her own so is extremely empathetic of the stresses of feeding a newborn baby. Dr Carey is well experienced with performing a tongue-release for newborn babies which helps to reduce procedure time and trauma as well as decreasing the risk of complications during or after the procedure.

how Can I tell if my baby has a tongue-tie?

If you look in your baby’s mouth, you might be able to see if they:

  • are unable to extend their tongue fully

  • have a tongue with a heart-shaped appearance at the tip

  • have difficulty lifting their tongue or moving it from side to side.


Tongue-tie is not just about how your baby’s tongue looks. A tongue can look completely normal to an untrained eye yet still cause substantial problems with feeding.

A tongue-tie is diagnosed by the baby’s tongue function too – what they can do with their tongue. 

What is a tongue-tie release?

Your baby could have a tongue-tie release, which can free their tongue so it can move more effectively. This involves cutting the frenulum.

Tongue-tie release is a safe procedure, when performed by a trained professional, that can improve the breastfeeding problems that tongue-tie causes.

What happens at the consultation appointment?

Dr Carey will assess your baby's tongue to determine if a tongue-tie release is indicated. If it is then she can perform the release there and then. Usually immediately after the release of the frenulum Dr Carey usually has you feed your baby to comfort them immediately afterwards. You can make use of our private and peaceful recovery suite for this if you wish.

does tongue-tie release hurt?

The tongue-tie release procedure is very quick and straightforward and believed to be almost painless.

Does by baby need to be referred to come and see you?

No you do not. Although we do this procedure for patients who have been referred to us by people such as GPs, neonatal nurses and speech therapists, you do not need to be referred to come and see us. If your newborn is struggling to feed and you believe they have a tongue-tie our surgeon can be accessed directly without the need for a referral. To arrange a consultation please contact us and we would be happy to provide assistance. 

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