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How to Identify and Treat Oral Thrush in Babies

How to Identify and Treat Oral Thrush in Babies

I remember nursing my six week old baby Ophelia, when I noticed some white spots in her mouth that didn’t seem to go away. After a bit of research, I learned that the shooting pains I had while nursing and the white spots in her mouth were both signs of thrush. I had been battling a yeast infection throughout the last half of my pregnancy with her, and I thought I had gotten rid of it…but apparently not. It was quite an ordeal to identify and heal from this fungus, and I just wanted to share my journey of what I did and what I learned along the way that helped us to finally get rid of Ophelia’s oral thrush and my nipple thrush, which essentially saved our breastfeeding relationship.

Oral Thrush in Babies

Oral thrush occurs when there is an overgrowth of the fungus Candida Albicans in the mouth.

Oral Thrush in a Baby

Oral Thrush in a Baby

Candida Albicans lives in the gastrointestinal tract of most adults and children as one of the microbes that helps to break down undigested food. It is only a problem when it grows out of control.

Human_tongue_infected_with_oral_candidiasis

Even though this is a child with oral candidiasis (after taking antibiotics), it gives a really good image of what thrush looks like.

Oral thrush typically presents itself in the fourth week of a baby’s life. It is very rare in the first week of life and after 6-9 months of age. As many as 39% of infants will develop thrush in the first few months of life.

Nipple Thrush in Mommas

Because breastfeeding provides a warm, moist, sugary environment, which is precisely where Candida thrives, babies can easily pass their oral thrush to the mother’s nipples, especially if they are already cracked or sore because of a bad latch. If the thrush isn’t treated, it can pass back and forth between mother and baby.

Causes of Oral Thrush

  1. Yeast Infection During Vaginal Birth: New babies are born with a clean gastrointestinal tract void of any microbes whatsoever. Within hours of birth, however, they start to build their own gut flora through exposure to the mother’s vaginal and fecal flora during a vaginal birth, breastfeeding, and exposure to the environment. If the mother has a yeast infection during a vaginal birth, however, the yeast will be one of the first microbes entering a baby’s clean and pristine gastrointestinal tract.
  2. C-Section Birth: If a mother delivers her baby by c-section (as one-third of mothers in the U.S. do), the baby will not getting any of her vaginal or fecal flora, which helps to populate the baby’s gut with healthy microbes. This new study shows how the baby’s gut flora can be disturbed for up to 6 months after a c-section birth, and this study shows how a c-section delivery leads to more pathogenic microbes (including Escherichia coli and Clostridium difficile) populating the baby’s gut. When the good microbes aren’t there first, it makes it very easy for the bad ones to take over.
  3. Antibiotics: If a mother tests positive for group B strep (which affects 25% of women), she will be given antibiotics during labor that will cross the placenta and reach the baby. Routine antibiotics are also given after a c-section (and sometimes before) to ward off infection. Antibiotics wipe out all bacteria good and bad, and when a newborn baby is having something introduced to its system that wipes out all of the bacteria before there is any, it makes it easier for something like Candida to take hold and grow out of control.
  4. Steroid Use: When Elliot was about 8 months old, he got a really bad case of croup and we took him to the doctor where they gave him a nebulizer and inhaled corticosteroids. Fortunately, it helped him to breathe again, unfortunately, inhaled steroids that get in the mouth can lead to thrush.

Signs of Oral Thrush

  1. White Patches in Baby’s Mouth: It might look like little milk spots in your baby’s mouth, but unlike milk spots, they won’t go away on their own. If you tried to scrape them off, you’ll notice that it’s actually an inflamed lesion that may bleed.
  2. Refusing to Nurse: Your baby may refuse nursing or be reluctant to nurse because its painful.
  3. Fussy Baby: Your baby may seem particularly fussy or up a lot in the night.
  4. Yeasty Diaper Rash: Sometimes a yeasty diaper rash will accompany oral thrush. Look for a diaper rash that’s red and inflamed with small blistery lesions that won’t go away with typical diaper rash treatments. I battled this with my son on and off for months. We tried the pharmacist’s recommended “magic butt paste” (which is just regular diaper rash cream mixed with Monistat) which kind of worked, but once we gave him some probiotics, the rash immediately went away and never came back again.

Signs of Thrush in Momma

  1. Painful Nursing: Nursing should not be painful. If it is, it might be a sign of thrush, especially if you’ve ruled out a bad latch. I remember Nursing Ophelia (who was two weeks old at the time) in front of my sister (who was pregnant for the first time) and she looked at me in shock and horror as I all but howled in pain as Ophelia latched on. The intense pain subsided after a bit and I just thought, well, this is part of nursing. But after I treated the thrush, the intense pain went away. (With her being my third baby, you’d think I would have known better, but I have had some sort of breastfeeding problems with all of my four children!)
  2. Shooting Pains: You may feel a deep shooting pain that occurs during or after feedings because the thrush can embed itself deep within your breast tissue.
  3. Cracked Nipples: Your nipples may also be pink or red, shiny, flaky, and/or have a rash with tiny blisters.
  4. Yeast Infection: If you have thrush, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve got a yeast infection too.

How to Cure Momma’s Thrush

  1. Eliminate Sugar: Thrush is caused by Candida and Candida feeds on sugar. You don’t have to give up sugar forever, but if you can get rid of Candida’s food source while treating thrush, it will be much easier to get rid of.
  2. Probiotics: Probiotics, such as lactobacillus, feed on sugar too, and unless they are wiped out by antibiotics or a poor diet, they will keep the Candida in check. You can get them from fermented foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut, sourdough, kimchi, keifer, and yogurt. When battling thrush, however, I suggest getting them in a stronger format as well. My favorite probiotics for treating Candida are Bio Kult Candea and Custom Probiotics.
  3. Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral miracle worker. I tried every remedy under the sun, but when I used apple cider vinegar, I was finally able to eliminate the thrush. This is what I did.
    • First, mix a solution in a peri bottle with about 2 T. of apple cider vinegar and the rest filtered water (chlorine free).
    • Then, after every breastfeeding session, squirt some onto some cotton balls and wipe your nipples, then throw those cotton balls away!
    • *If you’re pumping and/or using bottles, you have to really sterilize these components after every use. You can use apple cider vinegar, but really hot water will do the trick too.
    • In addition, wash all of your bras and anything your nipples come in contact with hot water and with apple cider vinegar added to the rinse cycle.
    • You can also mix 6 T. per gallon of water (or about 1 t. per 8 ounces) and drink throughout the day to heal from the inside out.
  4. Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is a soothing anti-fungal topical treatment. After I cleaned my nipples with apple cider vinegar, it felt really soothing and healing to dab a little coconut oil on them. You can also heal yourself from Candida from the inside out by eating it.
  5. Fresh Air: Candida can survive in oxygen, but it really thrives in dark, oxygen free areas. Going shirtless will not only feel good, but your husband/partner might get a kick out of it too! Get some sunlight on those nipples for extra measure because that also kills the fungus.
  6. *Gentian Violet: They say you can paint your nipples with this to get rid of thrush, but when I tried it, it caused Ophelia to go on a complete nursing strike. It was awful. I do not recommend using this on your nipples unless perhaps you plan to pump and bottle feed.
  7. *Grapefruit Seed Extract: I’ve heard that you can mix this with equal parts water and clean your nipples with it, much the same way that I did with the apple cider vinegar. I did not try this method, but it seems like it might work.

How to Cure Baby’s Thrush

  1. Coconut Oil: If you leave some coconut oil on your nipples, your baby can get some that way. You can also dab a little coconut oil on the thrush spots.
  2. Infant Probiotic: I really like this infant probiotic. If you had to have antibiotics for any reason or delivered by c-section so your baby didn’t get any good bacteria from your vaginal tract, I would highly recommend a good probiotic supplement regardless of whether or not your baby has thrush. But if your baby does have thrush (obviously, because that’s why you’re probably reading this) this will really help your baby to populate his or her gut with beneficial bacteria that can crowd out the yeast and help to get rid of the oral thrush. You can mix a little bit with your breast milk and feed it to your baby with a dropper, and/or you can make a little mixture and paint it on the thrush spots with your finger or a q-tip.
  3. Gentian Violet: Gentian violet is an anti-fungal that can be used topically to help get rid of thrush. When Ophelia’s thrush progressed from a few white spots to her entire tongue being coated white (after I misused Grapefruit Seed Extract), I turned to Gentian Violet as a last resort. It tastes awful, it can cause your baby to have an upset tummy, and it shouldn’t be used excessively because there are claims that it can be a carcinogen (when used regularly for two years at 600 times the recommended dose, sorry mice) and lead to mouth ulcers (when not diluted), but after three days of meticulous treatment, Ophelia’s thrush was totally and completely healed. I highly recommend this as a cure for baby’s oral thrush. Here’s are a few tips for using it so that it will be effective:
    Treating Ophelia's Thrush with Gentian Violet

    Treating Ophelia’s Thrush with Gentian Violet

    • Gentian violet will stain everything purple, so put some Vaseline or Bag Balm on your baby’s lips and around her or his mouth before applying it. This will make it easier to clean up the purple drool.
    • Dress your baby in clothes that you don’t mind ruining. (This goes for you too.) I found it helpful to put a bib on Ophelia as well.
    • Get the 1% solution, and mix with equal parts water. (It is too strong if left undiluted. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it will be more effective if you don’t dilute it.)
    • Using a q-tip, paint every part of your baby’s mouth, especially the tongue. This stuff tastes awful and your baby will hate it. I found it best to paint once in the morning, maybe once in the afternoon if it wore off, and once at night. (Don’t exceed three dosages in a day.)
    • Do your best to make sure your baby doesn’t swallow any. It can lead to an upset tummy.
    • You need to do this for three full days/nights. If you miss a dosage and don’t complete the cycle, the fungus will come back stronger and be even harder to treat.
  4. *Grapefruit Seed Extract: I read a lot of articles, reviews, and blogs about Gentian Violet and grapefruit seed extract when Ophelia had thrush, and I decided to go with the grapefruit seed extract first, but it did not go so well. First of all, I made the mistake of not diluting it, so maybe it would actually work if you didn’t do this. (It should be more effective if it’s stronger, right? Not.) I painted it on the thrush spots in her mouth, and they seemed to completely go away in a day, but then the next day, there were more and more and more spots until her entire tongue was coated white. It was like in the absence of the Grapefruit Seed Extract, the fungus grew even stronger and completely took over. It was at this point that I turned to the Gentian Violet which totally worked.
  5. Nystatin: Nystatin is what your doctor will probably prescribe if you take your baby to the doctor to treat the oral thrush (which I don’t recommend unless this is your last resort). Nystatin is an oral medication that is meant to be used topically on the areas where thrush is appearing. There are claims that it’s 80% effective, but that seems a bit high to me. When Ophelia got thrush, I combed threads on the Internet (not always the most reliable sources, I know, but I like reading about personal accounts) and read time and time and time again about how mothers would go to the doctor, get Nystatin for their babies, deal with the side effects of: mouth irritation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, rash, skin irritation, and/or allergic reactions, have the first dose not work, try another dose, still not have it work, and eventually give up on breastfeeding. I actually knew someone who got thrush at the same time as I did with her new baby and she used Nystatin as a remedy. It did not work, and she ended up not being able to breastfeed anymore. Personally, I would try all of these other remedies before turning to Nystatin as an absolute last resort.

In Conclusion

Dealing with oral thrush was probably one of the toughest postpartum things I’ve ever had to deal with, and through much trial and error, I’m glad we were able to finally beat it. With baby number four, I made darn sure to get rid of my yeast infection during pregnancy so that we would not have to deal with this again, and let me tell you, prevention is a much easier path! I also enjoyed researching and learning about why pregnant women are more prone to yeast infections, and I learned some fascinating information along the way. The bottom line is that thrush is nasty nasty business and it is worth all of the effort to prevent it and get rid of not just the symptoms, but the root cause as well.

Everything You'll Need for a New Baby

Everything You’ll Need for a New Baby

This is the most comprehensive list of baby items that you’ll ever need! If you’re pregnant, thinking about being pregnant, attending someone’s baby shower and looking for a cool gift, or just browsing to get ideas, you’ll want to check out this list and share it with everyone you know!

During the time that each of our four children have been babies, these have been the products that we have loved the most. I am listing all of these products new, but I have been able to find many if not most of these items at garage sales and thrift stores or received them as gifts. I definitely recommend having a list somewhere where you can keep track of what you want so you can keep your eye out for good deals.

Before you go too far, you might want to start a baby registry (Create an Amazon Baby Registry) or join Amazon Mom which is basically like Amazon Prime, but better (Try Amazon Mom for Free), and then you can create a wish list if you’re not quite ready for a baby registry.

Sleeping

  • Crib – This is what I have always dreamed of getting, but we never had to buy a crib new. For our first baby, we got a really nice portable crib for a baby shower gift, but it didn’t make the move, so for babies #3 and #4 we got a thrift store crib and a Craig’s List crib for less than $30/ea. I know some people are really paranoid about cribs, but we co-sleep for quite awhile, and then we keep them in the crib in our room so we’re always really close. We also found some really good mattresses at thrift stores for about $10 each, but you can buy a great one new here. The cool thing about crib mattresses is that they’re the same size as toddler bed mattresses, so keep that in mind when you’re purchasing one (make sure it’s waterproof).
  • Co-Sleeper – I absolutely loved this for our first born! Ruby slept in one of these until she outgrew it at about 8 months old. It made it so easy to roll over and nurse her whenever she needed me throughout the night. Our second born didn’t really care for it; he just wanted to be held. By the time we got to babies #3 and #4, we just had a mattress on the floor, so we couldn’t have used it even if we wanted to.
  • Big Swing – This has come in so handy for every single baby. The first 6 months are so crazy with sleep, and I like having a place where I know my little one can always fall asleep. (I make sure this swing is set up near a bed where I can sleep too!) We have purchased two of these. The first one from someone on Craig’s List and it was perfect. The second one we got new and the motor was so loud that we weren’t able to keep it in our bedroom. I’ve linked to a similar swing with better reviews. Just make sure whatever big swing you get has an AC adapter or you will spend a fortune on batteries (not to mention the frustration of running out of batteries at 2 a.m. when you finally got your little one to sleep).
  • Portable Swing – This swing is an absolute must! We have used this swing more than anything else. You can easily move it from room to room and babies love to fall asleep in it.
  • Newborn Rock n’ Play Sleeper – If I could only recommend one sleeping aid, it would be this. New babies tend to spit up a lot and the upward position on this is great for preventing that and is especially good for babies with reflux issues. I love putting my baby down for naps in this sleeper because it helps him to stay asleep for long periods of time. He also likes hanging out in this while awake and then will drift off to sleep when tired.
  • Mobile – I did a ton of research to find the best mobiles and this was the one we chose for our first baby, and we are still using it today with our fourth child. I currently have it on the diaper changing table because it provides a nice distraction. We also really liked this mobile.
  • Pack ‘n Play – When our firstborn outgrew her co-sleeper, we put her in a Pack n’ Play until she graduated to a toddler bed. It makes a great portable bed anywhere we’ve gone. We found ours at a garage sale for $10, but I love the one I’ve linked to because it has a top insert for newborns that would make a great bassinet.
  • Crib Sheets – Keep in mind that you will use these as your children transition to toddler beds. I just found mine at thrift stores, garage sales, and our local grocery store, but you can find some good organic ones too. You’ll also want a basic waterproof mattress pad or an organic one.
  • Monitors – This basic model has worked wonderfully for us for all four of our children, but if you’re looking for something more high tech, this video monitor works great.

Furniture

  • Changing Table – We didn’t actually get one of these until our fourth baby. We just put a changing pad on top of a dresser or changed them on the bed. (Our fourth baby is the only who hasn’t rolled off from a tall surface while being changed!) We found one like this at a garage sale for $15. You’ll also want some of these changing pad covers.
  • Dresser – Once again, this is something we found used, but I think it’s really important to have a nice little place to store all of your baby’s things, and you’ll appreciate having it as they get older.
  • Diaper Pail – This is the diaper pail we have, but I actually just use it for my cloth wipes. Because we have two in diapers, I need a bigger pail that doesn’t get filled up every day, so I just have this garbage can with a removable lid. I don’t think you need any special Diaper Genie to hold diapers. Yes, it stinks when you open the can, so don’t put it in your kitchen or living room and you’ll be fine. (But if you need to do that for some reason, get one of these.)

Diapers

  • Disposable Diapers – Ok, so I tried cloth diapers for awhile, and it was going great until we had two kids, and I just didn’t have the time. (And actually, we did disposables when she was a newborn, at night, and when we traveled…) The notion is that cloth diapers are better for the environment and save you money, but with the extra electricity and water used from washing cloth diapers, it seems like the carbon footprint is pretty comparable (unless you’re washing diapers by hand that is, then you go mama!). Also, cloth diapers need to be changed immediately or they will lead to diaper rashes, that and the extra time of washing them made me decide that the money saved wasn’t as valuable as my time and piece of mind.
    • Pampers Baby Dry Swaddlers are my favorite newborn diaper.
    • Pampers Baby Dry Size 1 are my favorite after that. I have tried other brands and the cheapest store brand, and nothing works as good as these. If you’re trying to save money though, Luvs really aren’t too bad.
  • Cloth Diapers – When we used cloth diapers, I loved our Fuzzi Bunz, but I’ve also researched every other brand.
  • Wipes – You can certainly buy disposable wipes, but I’ve found that it’s much better for our babies and our budget to use cloth wipes and make my own diaper wipe solution (or you could buy this).
  • Diaper Bag – Most diaper bags have little handles, but I love being able to sling mine over my shoulder when I’m carrying a hundred other things. Once again, we found ours at a thrift store, but I’ve linked to the basic idea I’m talking about.

Breastfeeding

  • Rocking Chair – I got a rocking chair like this at a garage sale, and it is AMAZING when I pair it with this foot stool. The way that it rocks with big swooping up and down motions is very soothing for babies, more so than a gliding rocking chair, which doesn’t really rock so much as just goes back and forth, but is still pretty dang comfortable.
  • Salt Lamp – When you’re up to nurse in the night, it is nice to have a soft glowing light that’s red to help you see what you’re doing. The red light ensures that the pupils don’t dilate and is perfect for keeping both mom and baby in a state of semi sleep.
  • Basket – I really love having a table set up near my nursing chair that has everything I may need while breastfeeding. I make sure to keep a full water bottle, my breast pump, burp cloths, Nosefrida, any of my baby calming supplies, fingernail clippers, reading material, lip balm, my cell phone, and anything else I might need while nursing!
  • Boppy – I love using a bobby to help me get my newborns correctly positioned for breastfeeding. Make sure you get a cover too so you can take it off and wash it when it gets covered with spit up.
  • My Breast Friend – I never did get one of these, but I recently saw one at a friend’s house. She loved it, and I thought it looked really cool.
  • Breast Pump – I have exclusively breast fed all of my babies, and this breast pump has helped me at every stage. It got me through the first few days when I couldn’t get my newborn to feed (and used these droppers to feed them), it provided relief when I had plugged ducts and mastitis, it helped me to make a bottle or two so we could have a date night, and it helped me provide milk for my babies when I was working full time for a bit. I had mine given to me by a friend, and just like with every other expensive baby thing, everyone says you should not use someone else’s breast pump, but I think that’s hogwash. If you’re really worried about hygiene, you can buy new parts. This little breast pump is a cheaper alternative, and this hands-free pumping bra is something I wish I would’ve had! When I was working, I used these milk storage bags to freeze my milk, but if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t freeze my milk. The living enzymes won’t survive the freezing process and the plastic will leech into the milk. Live and learn I guess.
  • Bottles – I have researched many types of bottles, and these seemed to be the best. We have loved them and have used them (when we needed a bottle) for every child. If I had to do it all over again, however, I would buy these glass bottles. Don’t forget a bottle brush!
  • Nipple Cream – This is great for sore or cracked nipples, but you can just rub a little breast milk on them and let them get some air, and it should do the trick too.
  • Nursing Bra – I love this bra because it is so easy to unlatch and nurse anywhere and the foam inserts hide my nipples! You might like a nighttime nursing bra to wear to bed too, but I just put a belly band over my breasts, not for the support (I have pretty small breasts), but because my nipples were so sensitive and I didn’t like wearing just a t-shirt anymore.
  • Nursing Tank Tops – If you think you’ll ever nurse in front of another human being that doesn’t want to see your sagging stomach skin while you lift up your shirt to nurse, you’ll want one (or two or ten) of these. They are also great for covering up your butt crack when you bend over and can double as a bra too.
  • *Check out my blog: 12 Breastfeeding Tips to Read Before You Give Birth for more helpful information about breastfeeding.

Baby Toiletries

  • Diaper Rash Cream – I have tried so many different diaper rash cream products, and nothing, and I mean nothing, even comes close to how amazing this is.
  • Body Wash – Babies don’t need to be washed that often, but when they do, this is the best product I’ve found for the job. This bar version works just as well.
  • Baby Oil – This oil is great for a million reasons. I love using it to make my own diaper wipe solution, to put on my babies’ heads to get rid of cradle cap, to put on their butts before meconium poops to make them easier to clean, and to rub into any dry areas. Extra virgin olive oil works just as well too.
  • Lotion – When babies get dry skin, this is great to have. But if I had to pick lotion or oil, I would pick the oil.
  • Weleda Starter Kit – This is a great kit to get you started to see if you’ll really like these products. (It also makes a great gift!)
  • Bag Balm – This is also great for a million reasons. Plus, I just like using it for lip balm, although nothing really compares to my homemade lip balm.
  • Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment – This is the best and most healing lotion ever. It’s great for when you need a super duper moisturizer.
  • Nail Clippers – You really only need to file your baby’s nails at first, and in the beginning, they’ll usually just kind of peel off, but eventually, you’ll want to be able to cut those little daggers!
  • Comb and Brush – The soft brush is so gentle for your baby’s head and the comb is great for getting rid of cradle cap!
  • Nosefrida – Forget using a bulb syringe, this thing is the BEST! You’ll also want to get some saline mist.
  • Colic Calm – I found this with my fourth newborn, and it really worked great on those late nights when he was fussy and nothing else seemed to calm him down. These work well too. *Check out my blog about how to calm a fussy baby here
  • Teething – You won’t need these items right away, but you’ll be happy to have them on hand when the time comes. Check out my blog: How to Relieve Teething Pain.

Clothing and Blankets

  • Onsies – If it’s spring or summer, you’ll be needing a lot of these! Here’s some basic ones for girls and some basic ones for boys.
  • Footie Pants – I hate putting socks on newborns. This is a great alternative. 🙂
  • Sleep Sack – This is just the best for sleepwear. Here’s one for girls too.
  • Swaddler – This swaddle blanket is great to put over a onsie for babies who like to be swaddled to sleep.
  • Sleeper – My fall and winter babies pretty much live in these. Here’s some for girls and some for boys. Trust me, you want the zippers on these things!
  • Socks – If the socks are too tight, they’ll leave marks on chubby little ankles, and that can’t be too comfortable!
  • Hand Socks – Some babies scratch their faces with their sharp little claws, and these are great, but regular socks work just as well.
  • Bibs – The bibs with the velcro in the back can sometimes scratch your little ones’ neck. I never thought I would rave about a bib, but these bibs are absolutely the best! They are great for clean up little spit ups and for drool.
  • Swaddling Blankets – Some of my babies have loved being swaddled, and some don’t. Just make sure when you swaddle, you’re giving the legs room to move around so you don’t cause hip dysplasia. I love these swaddling blankets because they’re really big, they’re breathable, and they’re soft.
  • Receiving Blanket –  These are kind of nice to have around for a spare burp cloth, swaddler, or blanket. Here’s a nice organic version, but gosh that’s expensive!
  • Silky Blanket – I like going to the fabric store and picking out the best and silkiest fabric and then making my own silky blankets for my babies, but if I had to buy one, this looks pretty good, and so does this one. I carry my baby around with his silky, nurse him with him wrapped up in it, use it to stroke his face and shield his eyes as he falls asleep in my arms, and lay him down with it for naps or at night so he is always near something that smells like me and is comforting.
  • Special Blanket – If you don’t (gasp) like silkies, something like this would be good too.
  • Lovie – If you’re not comfortable leaving your baby with a bigger blanket, you can leave them with a little lovie while they nap so they’re not totally alone.
  • Burp Cloths – Prefold and birdseye diapers work great as burp cloths too. Just make sure you have enough to put EVERYWHERE you might sit with the baby.

Out and About

  • Infant Car Seat – Having a removable car seat is so convenient for when your little one falls asleep while out and about. This is good until they are 6 months old or 22 lbs and 29 in., but well worth the investment in my opinion. You’ll probably also want a mirror like this to keep tabs on your little one and some window shades.
  • Car Seat – After they outgrow the infant car seat, you’ll need to upgrade. I recommend something like this because it can be converted to accommodate children from 20-100 lbs.
  • Stroller – This stroller is great because it fits with the infant car seat. We still have our Graco stroller from our first baby and we use it all the time.
  • Ergo – I have tried many different different carriers and I love, love, LOVE my Ergo! It is so comfortable to wear, it DOES NOT hurt my back, and I love having my baby snuggled up close facing me. It’s best suited for babies 4 months and older, but you can use the infant insert to accommodate your little one. You’ll want to stay away from the front facing carriers (for extended use anyways) because they can lead to hip dysplasia. I know people who really like the Boba carrier too.
  • Moby Wrap – It’s a little tricky to figure out how to use one of these, but this video will help! I LOVE using my Moby wrap for my little newborn babies until they are 3 months or so. It’s great to be able to keep them close while you want to have two hands free to do a few things around the house.

Things That Hold Babies or Playthings

  • Activity Mat – This can be packed up and moved anywhere easily, and all of our babies have loved it. It’s easy to store away. You can lay a baby on it starting at any age.
  • Bouncy Chair – Now, this isn’t really necessary, but it sure is nice to have a fun little place for your baby to bounce and play while you fold laundry or something. This one is fun too.
  • Activity Center – As soon as your baby can support himself (about 3 months), he’ll love being entertained in this activity center.
  • Bumpo – You won’t really need this until your baby is a little older, but we have loved using this with every single baby except our fourth (I’m not really sure why, too busy moving around I guess). It’s a great way to get babies in a sitting position when they’re not quite ready to sit on their own.
  • Door Jumper – Babies aren’t really ready for this until 6 months or so, but it is a great way for them to jump and move around while you get dinner ready.
  • Jumperoo – If you don’t have a good door frame to use, or if you have more floor space, this jumperoo is a great way for babies to entertain themselves.
  • High Chair – Our babies haven’t really been ready for a high chair until 6-8 months, but hey, you’ll use it sooner than you think! I really like how versatile this one is. And don’t forget silverware and a sippy cup. We try to buy most of our dishware glass, like these little glass plates and bowls, but sometimes some BPA free plastic does the trick too.

Toys

  • Whoozit – This little toy has been a favorite of all of our children, and we love taking it with us when we travel. We have also loved this larger sized Woozit.
  • Floor Mirror – This is so wonderful for when babies start doing tummy time.
  • Manhattan Toy Winkle – All of my babies have loved this because it is easy to grab onto, hold, and chew.
  • Jacques the Peacock – This is a great take-a-long toy with lots to keep a little one busy.
  • Ziggles – This is another cute take-a-long toy that is very cute.
  • Sophie the Giraffe Teether – I love how easy this is for little ones to grab and it’s such a fun teething toy.
  • Baby’s First Blocks and Rings – These are totally classic toys that you’ve just got to have!
  • Bath Letters – These are probably one of the most used toys we have, and they really help with teaching letters!
  • Wrist Rattles – I don’t know if these are more fun for the babies or the parents!
  • Wooden Teether – My friend hand makes these and they are really cool!

Books

Best Books to Read Before You Have a Baby

Postpartum

  • Bellefit Corset – This corset helped me to heal my diastis recti after baby number three, and I’m currently using it now to heal after baby number four.
  • After Ease – After baby number three, I was completely floored by the afterpains. I got some of this after baby number four, that a heating pad, and bouncing on an exercise ball really helped.
  • Postnatal Rescue – This is a very gradual workout that will ease you back into shape.
  • Comfortable (non maternity) Pants – You won’t fit into your regular pants for awhile and you’ll totally wear your maternity clothes for awhile, but it’s nice to have something comfortable that’s not maternity pants after awhile.

Things You Don’t Need

  • Everything on This List – You most certainly don’t need all of this stuff before the baby is born, and not all of these items are necessary. You have to pick and choose the things that are most important based on your lifestyle, your budget, your space, and your individual needs.
  • Everything New – I think the benefit of having a list such as this is that it enables you to keep an eye out for bargains and deals. Just knowing what you need can also help you to be better at saying no to impulse buys.
  • Baby Food Maker – Just use a blender, pre-chew the food, or cut it up into small enough bites.
  • Baby Bath – Just take the baby into the bath with you. It’s much easier, your baby will be more comforted with you nearby, and you can nurse if he or she gets fussy. You also don’t need special baby towels or wash cloths, but hey, get them if you must!
  • Outlet Covers – Outlets are only dangerous if a baby is sticking a metal knife into them. If you see them doing this, I think it would be better to tell them no or use some form of distraction. I also don’t think you need cabinet safety locks, toilet seat lock, or baby gates, but now that I’ve mentioned these items, you’re probably just going to get them anyways.
  • Bottle Rack – Unless you’re formula feeding, then you probably do.
  • Wipe Warmer – You might still like one, but this is something we never got and never missed.

Make a Registry

If you haven’t done so already, now might be a good time to make a baby registry. If you make one through this link, I will get a $5 referral fee, so thanks! Shop Amazon – Create an Amazon Baby Registry

Amazon Mom

If you’re a mom, grandparent, or caretaker, you try Amazon Mom for free for one month. So check out the following link below to help yourself and give me a small referral fee! Try Amazon Mom for Free

*If you’re looking for the best items to support your pregnancy, check out my blog: Best Pregnancy Items

Best Pregnancy Items

Best Pregnancy Items

During my four pregnancies, these are the things that I loved the most (or would have loved to have had). Being pregnant is a great honor, a wonderful journey, and a very special time in a women’s life. It’s fun to be able to pamper yourself a little bit and take care of your needs during this special time as you take on the wonderful honor of growing a tiny human.

  1. Body Pillow – I usually just prop up about a thousand pillows all around my body, but I would LOVE to have something like this to snuggle up with.
  2. Belly Band – When I want to be able to wear my old jeans, but I just can’t button them anymore, I love wearing one of these. During my third trimester, I also love these high waisted jeans.
  3. Maternity Support Belt – Sometimes carrying around that extra weight can get a bit uncomfortable and a support belt like this can really help.
  4. Compression Socks – When I get varicose veins while pregnant, I’ll put these on before I get out of bed in the morning (or whenever) and they totally help.
  5. Maternity Tank – I love wearing this under my shirts to hide the lines of my belly band and to cover up my butt crack when I bend over. I also like wearing it to bed to support my growing breasts.
  6. Maternity Pants – I usually just go to the thrift store and see what they have in their maternity section, but basically, I just want something that feels comfortable. I like these pants because they can go over my belly (which is nice when I’m further along) or I can fold them down (for when my belly is smaller).
  7. Maternity Shirt – Once again, I usually buy my maternity shirts at the thrift store or get “hand-me-downs” from friends, but finding a shirt with some kind of scoop or v-neck makes me not feel like so much like a huge whale, and I like something that gives me lots of room to grow.
  8. Maternity Underwear – I find these “boy shorts” to be very comfortable when I’m pregnant. Who likes wedgies anyways?
  9. Stretch Mark Oil – They say that you’ll get stretch marks no matter what you do if you’re genetically predisposed to get them, but it couldn’t hurt to try a little oil! At least it will help with the itching. Here’s another brand I like. This is good too.
  10. Exercise Ball – I loved using this for working out while pregnant, and it was absolutely essential for getting through labor.
  11. Prenatal Workout – When I was pregnant for my first baby, I loved doing these workouts. After that, I just never had the time. 🙂
  12. Prenatal Yoga – I loved doing this prenatal yoga video with all of my pregnancies. I believe doing yoga helped me to have good labors. There’s a massage component that my husband followed and it was AMAZING. I also really liked this prenatal yoga video.
  13. Pregnancy Tea – When I had to give up coffee and so many other things during pregnancy, it was nice to drink something warm and yummy that was full of natural herbs that are good for me and my growing baby.
  14. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea – I love buying this tea in bulk because it is so nourishing. I love using it to make my kombucha tea.
  15. Teeccino – This is a great caffeine-free coffee substitute and it is made with chicory which is a great prebiotic.
  16. Fermented Cod Liver Oil – We can’t afford to take this all the time, but when I’m pregnant, we fit it into the budget because it’s worth it. You can also get the Fermented Cod Liver and Butter Oil, which is more expensive, but even better. The Weston A. Price Foundation recommends that pregnant and nursing women take 20 fermented cod liver oil pills a day (or 4 teaspoons of the liquid), but I only took 4 per day (which is still 9 bottles of pills throughout the whole pregnancy).
  17. Trace Minerals – I like adding this to my daily water.
  18. Massaging Foot Spa – I never got one of these, but I sure would have loved one!
  19. Journal – I just wrote down my thoughts and ideas in a composition book (in addition to adding pictures and artifacts), but I think it’s so important to document this special time. You and your child will enjoy reflecting on it in the years to come.
  20. Oh Baby the Places You’ll Go! – I loved reading this to Ruby when she was in my belly baby in utero. I believe this helped her to love books from the very start. (Warning: It will probably make you cry.)
  21. The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care – The original Nourishing Traditions book is my food Bible, and this baby and child care book is an excellent source of information as well.

In Conclusion

When you’re pregnant for your first child, everything is new and kind of scary, and for you new moms, or for you veteran moms who still like to look at lists, I hope this has been helpful. I would love to hear what have been your favorite products during pregnancy too!

*These are all affiliate links, so if you purchase any of these products through my links, I’ll make a small portion that helps me to pay for the upkeep of this site. You will not pay any more than you would if you searched for these products on any other search engine. Thank you for your support!

How to Make an Allspice Teething Necklace

How to Make an Allspice Teething Necklace

When I see my little ones go through teething pain, it just breaks my heart, and I want to help them in any way possible. By making this allspice teething necklace which releases tannins into the body that strengthen the gums, it helps the teeth to break through more quickly and thus shortens the time they are in pain. I didn’t learn about this allspice teething necklace until my third child, and I only wish I had known about it sooner! It is simply amazing!

Teething Doesn’t Bother Everyone

Some children seem to be really bothered by teething and some don’t. With my four children, the two girls have had the toughest time ever with teething, my older son seemed to not be bothered at all, and my youngest son was fine when his first tooth popped out, but now this second one is being a real bugger!

When the Allspice Necklace Helps the Most

The thing that’s really frustrating about teething is when you see the gum start to bulge like a big bulbous ulcer about to burst, and then you wait and you wait and you wait…and you wait some more, but nothing happens. You look into your baby’s mouth with baited breath every time you change his diaper, hoping to find a little white ridge poking through the gum, but alas, there is nothing there. Then, one day, it looks like something is starting to peek through, but then when you go to show your spouse, it’s gone…the phantom tooth! THIS type of scenario is the perfect time to use an allspice necklace.

It Really Works!

It takes a bit of time and a little bit of work to make one of these necklaces, so I’m always a bit reluctant, but then when I finally do it, I think, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

Ophelia didn’t start getting her teeth until she was ten months old, but then they came all at once. One after another, and it was excruciating for her (and for us). Her amber teething necklace really helped with the pain, but she had a couple of stubborn teeth that would just not pop through. So I made her the necklace and within 24 hours, a tooth popped up, and she actually slept peacefully that night.

Now, our youngest son Julian, who at 4 months old, is already teething! His first tooth popped through without any of us hardly noticing, but this second one is being really shy for some reason. He’s been up every hour in the night, constantly fussy and crying, and that darn tooth just won’t pop through. So, I pulled out my allspice beads and got to work making an allspice teething necklace. Just like with Ophelia, within 48 hours, the tooth popped through and peace fell over the household once again.

After Wearing His Allspice Teething Necklace for 48 Hours Julian's Tooth Popped Through

Julian’s Tooth Popped Through

How Does the Allspice Help with Teething?

My midwife was the one who first introduced me to the concept of an allspice necklace being used to help with teething. She said that the allspice released tannins that helped to stiffen the gums which makes it easier for the tooth to come out. Since then, I haven’t been able to find a whole lot of “science” to prove this point. I just know that it has worked for me and countless others.

How to Make an Allspice Teething Necklace

Making your own necklace is kind of a pain, but since they only last for about 6 months and if you’re like me with a bunch of young kids and making these often, then it would be a good investment. Otherwise, if you just go to Etsy and do a search, you can find some already made. Easy Peasy.

Materials Needed

  • Whole Allspice (I like to buy mine here. You can get the organic kind here or a small quantity here.)
  • Stretchy Thread (I like this.)
  • Big Needle (I like this one.)
  • Thimble (Optional…get one here.)
  • *Magnetic Necklace Clasp (I have never used one, but if you’re worried about a choking hazard, this might be a good idea. Get one here.)
  • Small Pot
  • Paper Towel
  • Scissors

Directions

  1. Boil the Allspice: Place about a cup of whole allspice beads in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, turn the heat off, and let them sit there for about ten minutes. (This softens the beads so that you can puncture them with a needle.)

    Boiling Allspice for a Teething Necklace

    Boiling Allspice for a Teething Necklace

  2. Drain the Water: Strain them into a colander and dump onto some paper towel.

    Boiled Allspice Draining in a Colander

    Boiled Allspice Draining in a Colander

  3. Thread your Needle: Tie the thread off close to the needle. (You don’t need to make a double string, but you can if you want.)
  4. Put the Allspice On: Find the little dimple in the allspice “bead”, and puncture it with your needle. Use your thimble (or any hard surface) to press the needle gently through the bead. Be careful not to split the allspice. If you do, just discard it, and grab another one. I like to use the biggest allspice beads that I can find so that it will be easier to thread and be the most effective.

    Boiled Allspice, Stretcy String, and Allspice Necklace for Teething

    Allspice Necklace for Teething

  5. Measure: You might want to measure the thread length first, but I just eyeball when it looks close enough to my child’s neck and then hold it up to see. When it’s wrapped around the neck, you want there to be a few fingers width of extra length.
  6. Tie it On: Tie the ends together and clip the extra string.

    My 5 Month Old Son with an Allspice Teething Necklace

    5 Month Old Julian with His Allspice Teething Necklace

  7. Watch Closely: Some children may be allergic to the allspice or just have really sensitive skin. If you notice a red rash develop, I would just take it off. Also, keep watch to make sure it is comfortable and not getting stuck in neck rolls and making red marks.
Try to Fit the Allspice Teething Necklace Around the Neck Rolls

Try to Fit the Allspice Teething Necklace Around the Neck Rolls

FAQs

  • Will the necklace choke my child? This was my first question when I heard of this! It just seemed so weird to put a necklace on such a little tyke. But with the stretchy band, I don’t really see this as a risk. If you’re worried about it, however, you just have to see it on your child, watch them carefully at first, and then make your own determination. After seeing my own children wear both this and the amber teething necklace, I am not worried about choking.
  • Can my child wear it on his or her wrist or ankle? If you still can’t get past the choking thing, you can wrap the necklace around your child’s ankle and put a sock over it to hold it in place. I don’t think this method is as effective, but it might still do the trick.
  • Can my child wear it in the bath? Yes, your child can wear the necklace all the time – day and night and in the bath. I suppose you could make some kind of little clasp to be able to take the necklace off and on, but I just tie mine on and leave it there as long as it’s needed.
  • How long is it effective? As long as you can still smell the allspice, it should still be effective. They will typically last for about 6 months or so. I usually put one on my child as the teeth are coming through, and then take it off after they pop. When my child needs another one, I’ll just make another one.

In Conclusion

When I look at my little ones teething and then I try to imagine what I would be like if I had a mouth full of sores all the time, I think of two things. 1) You bet your buttons I would be cranky too! 2) This must be why children don’t have vivid memories of these years (thankfully). As a mom seeing her children go through something painful and just plain awful, I want to do whatever I can do mitigate the pain. This allspice necklace may take a bit of effort, but on the slim chance that it might just work, it’s well worth it in my book! *If you don’t feel like making one, you can probably find one on Etsy. 🙂

*You might enjoy some of my other blogs about teething.

How to Identify and Deal with Lip Tie and Tongue Tie

After having problems establishing a breastfeeding relationship with our first three children, I discovered what a lip tie was. After having our fourth child, I finally learned what a tongue tie was. Had I known about these two conditions from the very beginning, it would have made things a heck of a lot easier! This is the information I have gathered doing extensive research, talking to experts, and through my own experience. This is the information I wish I would have had with my first child from day one and what I would like to tell anyone else who is going through the same thing.

First of All, Let’s Talk About Frenula

Frenula is the plural form of frenulum. A frenulum (also called frenum when in relation to the upper lip) is a small fold of tissue that secures a mobile organ in the body. The maxillary labial frenum is the membrane  that attaches the gums to the upper lip and the lingual frenulum is the membrane that attaches the base of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.

When a baby is growing in utero, the tongue starts to develop at about 4 weeks. By 6 weeks, the frenulum cells attaching the tongue to the floor of the mouth begin retracting from the tip of the tongue increasing the tongue’s mobility. Disturbances during this stage cause ankyloglossia, or tongue tie. The tip of the tongue will continue to elongate after birth which is why some people believe that the tongue will “stretch” with age and growth, although that is not the case.

Look at Your Frenula

Before going any further, I suggest that you look in a mirror and lift up your upper lip. You may notice a stretchy piece of tissue hanging out up there, and you might even be able to feel it with the tip of your tongue. You may also feel nothing. Next, lift up your tongue and look for the stretchy piece of tissue lying underneath. Move your tongue around and notice the range of motion you have. Then try sticking your tongue out. Notice how far you can stick it out. Can it go down the length of your chin or up to the tip of your nose or does it barely leave the confines of your teeth? After you explore your own frenulums, examine your spouses. The two of you will probably be much more willing participants than your children and will give you a good insight as to what to look for as genetics will probably play a role in the type of frenulums your children have.

Are the Frenula Causing Problems?

The mere existence of frenula does not constitute a problem, it is when they are so restrictive that they lead to a host of other problems that are diagnosed by the specific symptoms that both you and the child are having that there is a problem. When the frenum of the upper lip or the frenulum of the tongue start to cause problems, they are referred to as lip ties and tongue ties. If there is a lip tie, there is probably a tongue tie also, but a tongue tie does not necessarily indicate that there will be a lip tie.

What is a Tongue Tie?

Being tongue tied is medically defined as having ankyloglossia, which is caused by having an unusually short or thick membrane under the tongue that is attached abnormally close to the tip of the tongue and causes restricted movement of the tongue. People with more severe cases of tongue tie cannot stick their tongues out very far beyond their teeth.

Tongue Tie, Photo Credit: Kate via Flickr, 2008

Tongue Tie, Photo Credit: Kate via Flickr, 2008

This can cause breatfeeding problems with babies and speech problems as they get older. As an adult, the worst of the lingering effects are typically the inability to french kiss properly and the inability to lick an ice cream cone. Here’s a great 2 minute video describing what tongue tie is, the symptoms associated with it, and what it looks like to get it removed using the scissor method.

What is a Lip Tie?

Having a lip tie occurs when the membrane under the lip is unusually thick and attaches under the gum line. It is not as common or severe of a diagnosis as being tongue tied, although it does have its own host of problems. I’ve read that severe lip ties will usually correct themselves by the time a child reaches adulthood due to tripping and falling or any other number of accidents that can lead to the lip tie being torn, but Dr. Kotlow, a leading expert in tongue and lip ties, believes this is not the case. He explains how if a severe lip tie is not corrected, “it can lead to dental decay on the upper front teeth, gaps (diastemas) between the two front teeth, orthodontic or periodontal problems later in the child’s oral development, and poor lip mobility or function, especially during smiling and speaking.”

Lip Tie

Lip Tie

Other resources that I’ve looked at say that once all of the permanent teeth come in, the gap may just fix itself. explains that lip ties will not go away on their own. Here’s a great 2 minute video describing what a lip tie is, the symptoms associated with it, and what it looks like to get it removed using the scissor method.

Different Classifications of Tongue and Lip Ties

Although you cannot diagnose tongue and lip ties by looks alone, it’s a good place to start. One of the first things to look for to see if your baby is tongue tied is to see if your baby’s tongue makes a heart shape when he or she cries. This is a tell tale sign that it is being tethered too tightly to the floor of his or her mouth.

One of the best ways to look for a tongue tie is to lie the baby on his or her back on your knees with his or her head facing towards you and his or her feet facing towards your knees. Then, tilt the baby’s head back and stick your fingers underneath the tongue to elevate it. You can also get a pretty good look when he or she is crying. To look for a lip tie, look to see if the top lip flanges out while nursing. You can also simply lift up the top lip and look.

These pictures below have been compiled by Dr. Kotlow, one of the most renowned pediatric dentists, known for his skill at correcting tongue and lip ties. He comes highly recommend by Mommypotomus who also has a great blog about tongue ties. You’ll notice that there are many different classifications.

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Symptoms of Tongue and Lip Ties

Looking at the symptoms related to tongue and lip ties is actually the best way to diagnose them. So here are a list of symptoms to look for in both mom and baby that could be the result of tongue and/or lip tie.

  • Symptoms to Look for with Mom
    • Nipple pain and/or erosions
    • Nipple looks pinched, creased, bruised, or abraded after feeds
    • White stripe at the end of the nipple
    • Painful breasts/vasospasm
    • Low milk supply
    • Plugged ducts
    • Mastitis
    • Recurring thrush
    • Frustration, disappointment, and discouragement with breastfeeding
    • Weaning before mom is ready
    • Tired momma, from being up in the night every hour for feeding night after night after night
  • Symptoms to Look for with Baby
    • Poor latch and suck
    • Unusually strong suck due to baby using excess vacuum to remove milk
    • Clicking sound while nursing (poor suction)
    • Ineffective milk transfer
    • Infrequent swallowing after initial let-down
    • Inadequate weight gain or weight loss
    • Irritability or colic
    • Gas and reflux
    • Fussiness and frequent arching away from the breast
    • Fatigue within one to two minutes of beginning to nurse
    • Difficulty establishing suction to maintain a deep grasp on the breast
    • Breast tissue sliding in and out of baby’s mouth while feeding
    • Gradual sliding off the breast
    • Chewing or biting on the nipple
    • Falling asleep at the breast without taking in a full feed
    • Coughing, choking, gulping, or squeaking when feeding
    • Spilling milk during feeds
    • Jaw quivering after or between feeds
  • Symptoms I Had: With our fourth baby, Julian, I was not getting very much sleep because he was up every hour or two (or sometimes every 30-45 minutes) to nurse. And when I would nurse him, I wasn’t able to just lay down and nurse, I had to either sit up on the edge of the bed or in the rocking chair to help him latch on. My nipples weren’t really sore (after four babies, they are pretty tough), but he was rolling the nipple around in his mouth and falling off the nipple repeatedly. When he would nurse, there was a noticeable clicking sound from his inability to form a secure latch. He especially had trouble maintaining a latch during my letdown and he would sputter, choke, and pop off the breast. He would also fall asleep mid feed and as a result he didn’t fully drain the breast. This led to me getting plugged milk ducts (which I massaged away after applying a hot compress and drained completely using a breast pump) and I believe that this is what led him to have a lot of green poops. He was also taking in a lot of air during feedings which resulted in him being gassy, needing to burp and fart a lot, and getting the hiccups. When he had gas (which was often), he would get really fussy and squirm, wiggle, and grunt…even in his sleep. He would also puke a lot, but he also would nurse a lot, so weight gain was not as issue. Finally, at his six week checkup, the midwife noticed that he was tongue tied. Once I started researching the symptoms, it all made sense.

Temporary Relief

If you are waiting for a corrective procedure or trying to decide if you will get one, the following strategies can help to provide some temporary relief.

  • Stretch the Lip Tie – To help with stretching out both Ophelia and Julian’s lip ties, I would put my finger under their upper lips and roll up. I tried to remember to do this before every feeding. To help them latch on, I would have to grab my breast and angle the nipple down, wait until they opened their mouth, and then torpeedo my nipple in there! Once they latched on, I would sneak my finger under their lips to flange it out. By the time they were three months old, I didn’t have any problems with their lip ties anymore.
  • Sitting Up and Leaning Forward to Nurse – Getting a good latch is difficult enough as it is, but when you’re dealing with a lip and/or tongue tie, it’s even more challenging! This seems to help.
  • Burp Often – Because they are taking in a lot of air, it can help to burp during a feeding by either patting their backs or putting them up on your shoulder. I would also try to angle their bodies to make them more upright while nursing. Also, keep burping periodically even long after the feeding.
  • Hold to Sleep – Now, I’m a really light sleeper, so this works well for me, but it can be dangerous, so use this strategy with caution! What I do is prop a big tower of pillows in a U-Shape around me for support. Then I sleep with pillows propped under my arm and my head leaning against a pillow. When we sleep, I hold his upper body upright and about every 3o minutes or so when he gets fussy, I would pat his back, bounce, and rock him until he calmed down. We are six weeks after the procedure and Julian is 3 months old, and I still actually hold him while I sleep every night. I think I’m just used to it now!
  • Belly Band Over the Boobs – You know that thing that you put over your pants when you’re pregnant so that you can leave your pants unbuttoned as your belly grows? Well, I pull that over my breasts because my nipples are just so dang sensitive. It’s a much more comfortable alternative to wearing a bra at night and makes it easier to nurse too.
  • Air Time – Putting breast milk on my nipples and just walking around without a shirt on felt good (I just had to remember to close my curtains!)
  • Lanolin – I put lanolin on my nipples if they got sore, but I’m not sure how helpful it was.

Options Moving Forward

You have several different options depending on your specific situation. You will want to consider the following: the problems you’re having breastfeeding (Is it preventing you from getting any sleep because your baby is nursing every hour and then spitting up or is it just slightly uncomfortable?), the availability of a skilled practitioner in your area or your capability of traveling, your financial situation and insurance coverage, the age of your child, and so on. Here is a list of the next possible steps.

  1. Wait and See – If your symptoms are not that bad or if you feel like they may be caused by something else (a poor latch, strong let down, flat nipples, etc.) you might want to take a wait and see approach. Dr. Kotlow, a leading expert in tongue and lip ties, however, strongly advises against this for a lip tie because he does not feel that it will get better with time. With Ophelia and Julian, however, their lip ties were not that serious and I felt like I was able to stretch them out by rubbing my finger under their lips regularly and flanging their lips out while nursing. It was really hard to get a good picture, but you can kind of see how it is there. It attaches below the gum line and was kind of tight at first, but seemed to stretch out over time. 

    Julian's Upper Lip Tie

    Julian’s Upper Lip Tie

  2. Best Time to Act – Keep in mind that the younger the child, the easier it is to deal with this procedure. Once you go through with the procedure, not only will your child have to physically heal, but he or she will have to learn how reuse his or her tongue based on the release and the new muscle use related to the increased mobility. The best time to get a procedure done is before the child is 3 months old, and really, the younger, the better. Usually, when the child is over 6 months old, the doctor won’t do the procedure in the office, and it will have to be done in the hospital with anesthesia.
  3. Pediatrician’s Opinion – We did not need a referral to get an appointment with a specialist, but you might, and this would be a good place to start to learn about your options. Just keep in mind that some pediatricians are not familiar with tongue or lip ties or worse yet, might not believe in them and make you feel silly for even asking. We took our fourth baby, Julian, to see his pediatrician because we had no idea where to even start. She said, “Yup, that’s a tongue tie!” and suggested that we see an ENT for a frenectomy (also known as a frenulectomy, frenulotomy or frenotomy – which is the removal of a frenulum). When he cries, you can see the heart shape of the tongue and how it is tethered to the floor of his mouth.

    Julian's Tongue Tie

    Julian’s Tongue Tie

  4. ENT – That’s an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist in case you didn’t know (I didn’t). Some people feel like this is the best place to go for getting a tongue or lip tie procedure. For us, we needed something close that was in our network, and this was the only option. We had to pay $45 for the office visit and we were quoted that the procedure would be $450, but six weeks later, we have yet to get a bill. (Maybe insurance is covering it after all?)
  5. Pediatric Dentist – Some people feel like this is the preferred specialist for this procedure. I think that it all depends on what is most convenient for you. If you can travel and money isn’t an option, then you might have the freedom to research all specialists nationwide and find the best of the best.
  6. Scissor Method – This is the most common way of doing the procedure. Depending on the severity of the tongue tie, a topical and/or local anesthetic may be used, the membrane may be clamped to stomp blood flow, a nurse (and you if you can handle it) will hold the baby down, the nurse will prop up the tongue with q-tips or some other tool, then the doctor will go in with one or two snips, and then he or she will then cauterize it with silver nitrate if there is a lot of bleeding. When Julian had his cut, I was really shocked by the amount of blood, but the doctor assured me it was normal. He breastfed right after the procedure and the bleeding stopped after a few minutes. (His next poop was pretty black from all of the blood he swallowed.) There is a concern with this method that the doctor won’t cut enough (I’m sure it’s scary going into a little baby’s mouth like that with a pair of scissors, especially if they are screaming!) and there won’t be a full release. We did not have this problem.
  7. Laser Method – Some say that the laser method is superior because it can penetrate through more of the tissue for a more complete release and immediately cauterizes the wound, but it is not easy to find someone who will do this. (It takes a steady hand and a lot of skill.) Here’s a list of nationwide providers that will do the laser method.
  8. Questions to Ask – If you have several options within your area, it might be a good idea to ask some of the following questions to narrow your search such as: 1) How often have you done this procedure? 2) How often do your patients come back for a revision? 3) What is the procedure like? 4) What are your thoughts on the scissor method versus the laser method? 5) What do you recommend for aftercare?

After Care

After the procedure, some say that doing exercises to help the muscles learn what they are supposed to do and to make sure the tongue tie doesn’t reattach and scar tissue doesn’t form is absolutely crucial. I personally felt that my son would strengthen his muscles by nursing and that the wound would be given sufficient time being stretched every time he cried. (I mean, I wish I could soothe him perfectly so that he never cried, but that has yet to happen.) To be honest, I felt like he had been through enough and I could tell he was in pain when I tried to do the exercises, and I just couldn’t bear to put him through any more. I can see how the lip tie would reattach if the lip continued to not to flange out while nursing, but I can’t imagine that the newly detached lip wouldn’t flange out. At any rate, you may want to rub a finger over the wound periodically to ensure that it doesn’t reattach.

Typically, babies feel discomfort for the first 24 hours after the procedure. Older babies and toddlers will typically feel discomfort for the first 48 hours. Breastfeeding and skin to skin are the best first lines of defense. Arnica is a good natural method for pain relief, or there’s acetaminophen (dosage should be given based on the child’s weight not age). Ibprofen should not be given to children under the age of 2 months and topical numbing ointments containing benzocaine (Orajel/Anbesol) should not be given due to health risks.

After Julian’s procedure, he was in a considerable amount of pain for the first 48 hours. I ended up giving him some acetaminophen every couple of hours for the first two days and then periodically after that as needed. The wound was white for about the first 10 days and then it looked pink again. They say that with a successful tongue tie revision, you should be able to see a diamond shape. It was really hard to look under Julian’s tongue to see if this was the case but I could tell things were better based on our nursing relationship.

The Ideal Diamond Shape After a Tongue Tie Release

The Ideal Diamond Shape After a Tongue Tie Release

We are now 6 weeks past our frenectomy date and I feel like I am finally noticing a difference. To be quite honest, he improved ever so gradually, that it was hard to notice on a daily basis, but when I reflect back to the way things were 6 weeks ago, it’s really a night and day difference. The clicking went on for some time until it finally faded away. He still pops off the breast during my let down from time to time, but that could just be due to my really powerful letdown. He is sleeping better and best of all, I am able to nurse laying down! He still wakes up to feed every 2-3 hours, but that is WAY better than every 45 minutes! At first, I really questioned whether or not getting the procedure was worth it, but now I am definitely glad we did it. I think that maybe we would’ve had a better experience had we found a pediatric dentist who could do the laser procedure, but that just was not an option for us.

Body Work

Some people recommend chiropractic or CrainoSacral Therapy both before and after the procedure to help release the muscles needed to nurse. CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, hands-on approach that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole-body health and performance. In her article, CranioSacral Therapy: When Can It Help, by Dee Kassing, BS, MLS, IBCLC, she states that,

“If there is misalignment and imbalance of the skull bones, this can affect the function of the palate, tongue, and other structures of the head. This can cause the palate to be too high or uneven, or the facial muscles to be too tight. Imbalance of the structures of the head, as well as trauma from the birth process itself, can cause constant irritation to the nervous system. This constant irritation may also cause hypersensitivity, which can sometimes be the underlying cause for babies who gag and cannot accept anything in the center or back of the mouth.”

We took Julian to get some CST before his tongue tie release when he was about 5 weeks old, and while it didn’t make breastfeeding better per sae, it changed him in both subtle and powerful ways. He always seemed to be just a little bit fussy, and afterwards he was SO CALM. I would definitely recommended CST for every infant after birth (But that’s another post!). I kept meaning to take him for some post CST, but the timing just never worked out. It is definitely something I would recommend to anyone getting a frenectomy. To find someone who does CST, you can call chiropractic offices that specialize in infants and see if they recommend anyone.

Happy Julian

Happy Julian

More Personal Stories

Like I said, all of our children had either a tongue tie, lip tie, or both. Too bad I didn’t learn about what they were until recently.

  • Ruby – Looking back, we had a very rough start to our breastfeeding relationship, and now I know that it was due to her having a lip tie. She couldn’t get a good latch, she was constantly popping off the breast, she spit up A LOT, she couldn’t drain the breast and had green poop, she took in a lot of air while nursing because of the constant on and off and as a result she was very gassy. Now she is five years old and has a noticeable gap between her front teeth. And sure enough, when we lift her upper lip, there’s a lip tie. It doesn’t seem to be too serious, however, and we are hoping that the gap will close when her permanent teeth come in.
  • Elliot – Looking back, I can see that I had a lot of the same problems with Elliot that I have had with Julian. I just had no idea about tongue or lip ties at the time! I nursed Elliot until he was 18 months old, but had to wean him (before either of us were ready) because it was just too painful. Now, he is four years old and has some speech problems. He cannot say the /r/ or /l/ sound and has trouble with the /c/, /g/, and /th/ sounds. We had the ENT look at him when we were there for Julian’s appointment and he said that it was there, but that it wasn’t bad enough to warrant surgery. We have decided to just work with him on correctly pronouncing his letter sounds and hope for the best.
  • Ophelia – Our midwife pointed out that she had a lip tie right away. I had no idea what that even was at the time. I worked on stretching it out as she suggested and flanging her lip out when she nursed, and it never really became a problem. When her baby teeth came in, there was no gap in between her top front teeth.
  • Julian – I noticed that he had a lip tie right away, so I was able to stretch it out and it wasn’t really an issue. I asked our midwife to look at it during our 6 week visit, and she discovered that he was actually tongue tied. And that is when all of this research began. Full circle.

For more reading on the matter, check out these resources: Breastfeeding a Baby with Tongue-Tie or Lip-Tie (Resources)