reflux or tongue tie

Does Your Baby Throw Up a Lot? It Might Not be Reflux but Tongue and Lip Ties

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a small commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information. Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, this is my personal account of what happened with my twins. Contact your local physician or pediatric dentist with your concerns.

If your baby throws up after feeding, it might not be reflux, they may have tongue or lip ties. Once our twins’ ties were diagnosed and revised they no longer threw up! Read on to see how we finally got to that point!


Reflux? Or Something Else?

Our twins were born at 36 weeks and were considered a month premature. As if having two babies at once wasn’t hard enough, they threw up every day. Often it wasn’t just throwing up but also projectile vomiting that went all over us and everything in sight.

It was so difficult to exclusively pump 8oz for them 7 times a day and then to see most of it spew out of their mouths and onto the floor, leaving them hungry and upset and me to calm them plus clean up the mess before my older child runs through it. It was horrible.


Searching for Answers

I was exclusively pumping because with the twins being preemies they had difficulty nursing, I thought that’s all it was. I had heard of tongue and lip ties in the past but figured at first that they just didn’t have strong enough muscles in their mouths to nurse and actually get milk since they were preemies, and that was that.

Due to the painful latches they had, difficulty nursing, and inability to keep milk in their tummies, we took them to a lot of doctors. We saw lactation consultants in the hospital, and also saw one a couple of times at our pediatrician’s office within the first month or so. After those appointments, we still didn’t know why the babies weren’t able to nurse and why they kept throwing up every day.

Once they were a month old and this kept happening, I started looking more into tongue and lip ties. I realized that by now they should have been able to nurse well and trying to nurse them before pumping was completely exhausting and painful. We asked the lactation consultant, pediatrician, and other professionals if they had tongue and lip ties. They all said no, or at least not to the point it would affect them this much.

We kept trying gripe water, feeding them bottles very slowly, handling them gently/not bouncing them at all after feedings, etc. but they kept projectile vomiting. We’d even ensure that we held them upright after eating which was a pain to do overnight after feeding them and we wanted nothing more than have them go back to sleep.


Finally Some Hope

Finally, when they were about 2 months old they were being adjusted by our chiropractor who had adjusted me during my pregnancy with them and continued to do so. She’s wonderful. We were talking about their eating difficulties and constant throwing up.

She suggested that we contact the local pediatric dentist, who we happened to already take our older child to, about doing a consultation to see if they had tongue and lip ties. I was elated by this suggestion, as I love this pediatric dentist and knew in my heart that they had tongue and lip ties, even though prior medical professionals had said they didn’t.

Granted, I realize we saw these other doctors earlier in their lives so maybe when we saw them it wasn’t as bad but by the time the pediatric dentist saw them she saw how severe it was.


Diagnosis & Revision

I think we were lucky enough to get in for an appointment with the pediatric dentist the next week. The twins were promptly diagnosed with class 4 tongue and lip ties and we were able to have them revised right there in her office with a laser. It was so quick and amazing. The twins were able to nurse right afterward and I could feel the difference when they latched. The best part, they didn’t throw up! They didn’t even spit up! The change was instant.

We gave them Arnica dissolved in their bottles of milk, as instructed by the pediatric dentist, to help with the pain. We also had to do stretches with them every few hours to ensure the ties didn’t re-adhere which I always felt so bad about doing because it caused them so much discomfort but knew it had to be done. We went back for a check-up, I think two weeks later, and they were healing well and we no longer had to do stretches with them. Yay!!

It was AMAZING how they stopped spitting up, vomiting, and projectile vomiting, once they had their tongue and lip ties revised. I was in awe. I wish we would have brought them to the pediatric dentist earlier but better late than never.


Tongue & Lip Ties are Common

If you think your baby may have a tongue or lip tie based on them not latching well, having a painful latch, and/or throwing up frequently, contact your local pediatric dentist to inquire about tongue and lip ties. Not all will be trained in tongue and lip ties but you could ask them if they know of someone who is. A quick Google search may be able to tell you a local provider who specializes in tongue and lip ties as well. It’s worth at least getting checked out before you give up on nursing or give your baby reflux medicine they may not need.

Fyi, even older children and adults can be impacted by tongue and lip ties. I’m quite certain that my oldest son and I have tongue and lip ties. For him it causes him to breathe with his mouth open, eat with his mouth open, and some behavioral issues. For me, I have TMJ (grind my teeth and have constant jaw pain from clenching), constant neck and shoulder tenseness, and mouth breathing far too often. Often older children and adults require physical therapy in addition to laser treatment in order to retrain the mouth muscles how to work properly.


Why I decided to continue exclusively pumping even after their revision

I did end up deciding to continue to exclusively pump instead of switching to nursing. This was because I had lapsed in trying to get them to nurse before the procedure so by the time they had the procedure, when I stuck my boob in their hungry mouth they basically reacted with a “what the heck is this thing?! I’m starving! Give me a bottle!!” so I decided to continue pumping. However, even though I didn’t go to nursing them, I’m still very glad we had the procedures done because they immediately stopped throwing up every time we fed them.

The reason I had lapsed keeping up with trying to nurse them within those first two months of struggling with all of this is I was supposed to nurse each baby for 15 minutes each, while they were hungry and upset for milk. I had to pump 7 times a day for at least 30 minutes, even overnight. So that means that I had to get them, and myself, up 30 minutes early to struggle with trying to nurse them, while they’re super upset and hungry, only to put them back down and pump for 30 or so minutes. Then spend 30 minutes feeding them bottles slowly, hoping they wouldn’t throw it all up, and then once they did throw it all up, changing them, scrubbing the milk-covered floor, and trying not to cry over thrown-up milk. This was not sustainable. It literally took up half of my existence at that point.

30 min trying to nurse + 30 min pumping + 30 min feeding bottle + time to clean up mess = 1-1/2 to 2 hours of feeding activities, every 3 hours. So by the time I was done with this, then I had to do it all over again within an hour or so leaving me little time to shower, make a meal, pay attention to and feed my oldest child, etc. and just hour increments of sleeping…which is not sustainable at all. So I gave up on the nursing portion because I couldn’t sustain that schedule and not be a total zombie. Even taking out the 30 minutes trying to nurse them I was still strapped for time and exhausted but at least that helped somewhat.


To read more about my Experience with Breastfeeding my Singleton & Pumping for my Twins click the image below.

what I learned from breastfeeding and pumping that will help you today text overlay over a woman breastfeeding

When Ties Aren’t Corrected

Beyond difficulty nursing or keeping down a bottle after eating, there can be other difficulties with tongue and lip ties. My oldest child nursed fine and kept the breastmilk down after nursing but I’ve noticed years later that he likely has tongue and lip ties as well.

As you can see in the photo below, my oldest appears to have a lip tie which has caused his baby teeth to have a gap between the top two teeth. His bottom teeth aren’t quite as bad but it looks to me as he’ll likely need braces once his adult teeth come in. Bummer for all of us!

Oldests Lip Tie results in tooth gap
Lip Tie = Tooth Gap

Beyond the tooth gap, I feel that he has a tongue tie as well. He hasn’t been diagnosed with either of these ties but to me they seem quite apparent. From what I’ve read a tongue tie as an older child and adult can result in neck and shoulder tension, TMJ, jaw soreness, grinding teeth especially overnight, behavioral problems, and difficulty breathing with ones’ mouth closed. My oldest has most of these plus the tooth gaps.

I have most of the above symptoms as well and after looking more closely at my mouth I’m guessing I have tongue and lip ties too. I also had a big gap between my front teeth and required braces for many years. My TMJ and constant shoulder and neck pain are getting worse as I get older. I considered going in for an evaluation and likely revision right around when COVID hit so I’ve postponed that. It bugs me more than ever though, all of those symptoms.

With older children and adults there is a lot more to having ties revised/released than with infants. Since our mouth and body are trained, in a sense, with the ties in place, we end up having to go through myofunctional therapy and sometimes other therapies such as speech therapy as well.


All in all, if your infant has a possible tongue and or lip tie, I’d suggest having it looked at by a pediatric dentist who specializes in ties as soon as possible. The older they get, the more complicated it all gets.


Resources


Does your baby throw up after milk? It might not be reflux, they might have tongue or lip ties.

  • Can Tongue Tie cause vomiting?

    In our experience with our twins, yes. It’s amazing how much of a difference we saw once we worked hard to get the right diagnosis and the ties were revised.

  • How quickly can I nurse after tongue tie revision?

    Our twins had their ties revised at 2 months old with a laser in the pediatric dentist’s office. They had tongue ties and lip ties. I was able to nurse them within minutes and their latch was so much more comfortable for all of us.

  • Is there a lot of blood when tongue ties are revised?

    In our experience, with having our twins’ ties revised with a laser procedure, there wasn’t blood afterwards.

Founder, Professional Blogger at The Way it Really Is, LLC | [email protected] | Website

As a mom of identical twins and a son two years older, I have gained invaluable experience in the realm, and chaos, of parenting. With a Master's Degree and Education Specialist Degree in School Psychology, I spent years as a school psychologist, helping children navigate through their educational and emotional challenges. Now as a stay at home mom and professional blogger, I combine my areas of expertise to help you in your parenting journey.

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