Diagnosis and therapeutic support for parents and babies with lip tie and/or tongue tie can start as soon as difficulties present. However, when we are considering a procedure to release the lip and/or tongue tie, we have to keep optimal timing and preparation/readiness in mind.
The Ideal Time to Get Infant Frenectomy
For newborns that are having difficulty with feeding, the ideal timing for infant frenectomy is between 2 to 6 weeks of age. During the first 2 weeks of life, infants have a chance to establish baseline feeding habits, regulate their bodily systems, establish appropriate weight gain, and be fully evaluated by their primary care provider to rule out any other health concerns.Sleep cycle management and caring for the postpartum dyad’s needs are a priority during this time. This is also the time during which the nursing parent’s milk supply is becoming established, and may require some management. During this time, parents can seek support from a tie savvy Lactation Consultant or Feeding Therapist to establish best practices. These first two weeks allow babies to find a way to get back to their birth weight and rule out any other concerns with their breathing, body temperature management, liver and kidney function.
Why frenectomies are Ideal at 2-6 weeks
After the first two weeks, specifically between 2-6 weeks of age is a great time to move forward with treatment for lip tie and/or tongue tie as the suck reflex is still strong and the process of retraining a baby to suck properly after the procedure is easier. This way they are in a much better and stable position to be able to tolerate a procedure and begin making improvements with feeding during the post operative time.
Effects of waiting to get a frenectomy procedure
Of course, treatment for lip tie and tongue tie is not always possible during the ‘ideal-newborn-time frame’. Many babies have their ties identified and treated after 6 weeks of age. When a baby is closer to 3-4+ months of age, they have been relying on compensation methods like horizontal tongue movement or compressions from the lower jaw for a sustained period of time. It can be a little harder to break those patterns and encourage a baby to use their tongue and lip correctly as time goes on. If you are considering treatment much beyond the 2-6 weeks of age time-frame it is important to find a release provider who can help with preparing the baby towards the procedure so that baby’s compensations for feeding are not significantly disrupted by the procedure.
Importance of having a feeding therapist
Working with a feeding therapist, IBCLC, or bodyworker like a physical therapist, infant massage specialist or pediatric physical therapist can help prepare babies towards the procedure and ensure that they have an easier time with managing their new anatomy after the procedure.
Having comprehensive support for baby’s feeding, and helpful expectations for what progress will look like post procedure, helps to create a positive mindset for parents post procedure as well. So in summary, incorporating therapeutic intervention and procedure preparation in the right sequence has a more positive impact on optimal outcomes than just doing treatment by a specific time.