As a parent, dealing with a fussy, colicky baby can be incredibly challenging and stressful. Colic, reflux, excess gas, and explosive bowel movements are common symptoms that can leave you feeling helpless and desperate for solutions. 

However, determining the root cause of these symptoms can be confusing. They might be caused by food allergies or oral restrictions such as tongue and lip ties. 

It is crucial to investigate fully before committing to treatment for one or the other. 

In this blog post, we will delve into how to distinguish between tongue ties and food allergies and the importance of seeking the right support for your baby.


The Overlapping Symptoms: Tongue Tie vs. Food Allergy

Symptoms of Tongue Tie

Tongue tie, or ankyloglossia, is a condition where the strip of tissue (frenulum) connecting the tongue to the floor of the mouth is shorter or tighter than usual. 

This can restrict tongue movement and lead to several symptoms, including:

  • Difficulty latching during breastfeeding
  • Prolonged feeding sessions
  • Poor weight gain
  • Gassiness and colic due to swallowing air
  • Reflux and excessive drooling
  • Clicking sounds while feeding


Symptoms of Food Allergy

Food allergies in infants can manifest in various ways, often affecting the gastrointestinal system. 

Common symptoms include:

  • Vomiting or reflux
  • Diarrhea or explosive bowel movements
  • Blood or mucus in stools
  • Excessive gas
  • Colic-like irritability
  • Skin rashes or eczema

Given the overlap in symptoms such as reflux, gas, and colic, it can be difficult to determine whether a tongue tie or food allergy is the underlying issue.


The Importance of a Thorough Investigation

Avoiding Unnecessary Treatments

In many cases, parents might undergo harsh elimination diets in an attempt to identify and remove potential food allergens from their baby’s diet, only to find no relief for their baby. While elimination diets can be effective in diagnosing food allergies, they are not without their challenges and can be quite restrictive.

On the other hand, some parents might rush into surgical procedures to address suspected tongue ties without considering other potential causes. 

It’s essential to avoid unnecessary treatments by conducting a thorough investigation to pinpoint the actual cause of your baby’s symptoms.


Seeking Professional Guidance

The best approach is to seek guidance from well-trained and experienced lactation consultants, specifically International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs). These professionals can provide a comprehensive assessment of both the mother and baby, considering feeding techniques, tongue and lip function, and dietary factors.

An IBCLC can:

  • Conduct a detailed oral assessment to check for tongue and lip ties
  • Observe and evaluate breastfeeding sessions to identify any issues with latch or milk transfer
  • Guide you through the process of elimination diets if food allergies are suspected
  • Work collaboratively with pediatricians and other healthcare providers to ensure a holistic approach to your baby’s health


The Role of Pediatricians

It’s important to note that not all pediatricians may be fully aware of the overlap between tongue ties and food allergies. Therefore, advocating for a referral to an IBCLC or a specialist in pediatric oral health can be crucial in getting the right support for your baby. 

A team-based approach, involving both medical and lactation professionals, can provide a more accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan.


You Deserve Support

As a parent, you deserve the support and guidance needed to navigate these challenging early months with your baby. 

Whether your baby’s symptoms are due to a tongue tie, a food allergy, or a combination of factors, understanding the root cause is key to providing the best care for your child. 

By working with experienced lactation consultants and pediatricians, you can piece together the puzzle of your baby’s symptoms and find the most appropriate and effective solutions.

Remember, it’s not about rushing into treatments but about making informed decisions based on a thorough and holistic assessment of your baby’s health. 

Reach out to us for the support you need and give your baby the best start in life.