Both before and after a tongue tie revision, it is important to help a tongue-tied baby learn how to use his mouth properly to breastfeed effectively. Start these before the revision takes place. Your baby can learn a few things about how his mouth is supposed to move before the process and both of you can become accustomed to these exercises prior to the procedure so that they are not troublesome afterward. Practice these exercises three to five times a day, before most daytime breastfeeding sessions. Always start with freshly washed hands and neatly trimmed fingernails.
These exercises work well whether or not your baby has had his frenulums revised. Although frenulums themselves do not stretch, the tissues and muscles around the frenulums can.
These oral exercises are designed to be gentle and fun. They shouldn’t seem to hurt or bother the baby. You may find that they annoy the baby, especially if he is hungry and you are attempting to do them before feedings. Try the exercises on yourself or your partner to try to identify and locate the targeted muscles. This will also help you understand which parts of the mouth are more sensitive than others. If any of these exercises make you uncomfortable, please don’t do them and let your IBCLC know.
Your baby may not realize how far her new tongue can stick out! Tap your baby’s forehead, nose, and chin. Hold your finger on your chin and she will start to extend her tongue. If she makes eye contact with you, stick your tongue all the way out and ask her to do the same; she may mimic you! Ideally, she will stick her tongue out past her bottom lip.
Sucking Tug-of-War with Palate Massage
This exercise it to help strengthen his tongue muscle. Encourage him to suck your finger in, pad side up. As he sucks, resist him by gently pulling your finger out, allowing him to pull back. If he wasn’t extending well in the previous exercise, try applying gentle traction down with the nail side of your finger to push the rear of his tongue down.
Using a windshield wiper motion, gently rub your finger back and forth over his palate.
You can also encourage tongue extension by flipping your finger pad side down and pressing down while pulling forward while he sucks.
This exercise is to improve lateralization, or the side-to-side motion of baby’s tongue. Slowly trace her lower gum, from center to rear, with the pad of your pinky. Repeat on each side three times, then move to the other side. Repeat on the upper portions of her gum. Look for the tip of her tongue to follow your finger. She may rotate the side or the body of her tongue at first. As you practice this more and more, she should start moving the tip more.
Around-the-World Cheek and Lip Flanging
This will help him flay his lips out at the breast. Insert your finger between his gum and his lip. Trace your finger between his gum and lip, stretching his lip gently away from his gum. Do this under the top lip and bottom lip.