When a baby is struggling to nurse or bottle feed properly, there are many factors to consider. Are the parents positioning the baby properly? Can more instruction be offered to parents on how to ensure a proper latch?
Sometimes the problem goes beyond simple technique and lies instead with a physical limitation of the child.
When feeding concerns can not be solved by a pediatrician, babies are often referred to a speech language pathologist. Initially this might seem confusing, but the muscle coordination used by a child to nurse or suck from a bottle is very similar to the muscle coordination patterns that are necessary for an older child to develop proper speech.
Almost all pediatricians and speech language pathologists know to check for a tongue tie in a baby that isn't nursing or sucking well. However, a lip tie can be just as detrimental to the feeding process. For this reason, all doctors and speech language pathologists are encouraged to flip the upper lip of babies to look for lip ties that could be interfering with feeding.
According to the ASHA Leader Blog article, "Just Flip the Lip! The Upper Lip-tie and Feeding Challenges" by Melanie Potock MA,
"Lip restriction may influence swallowing patterns and cause compensatory motor movements which may lead to additional complications."
If more medical professionals are trained to flip the lip as part of their oral examination, feeding problems can be addressed proactively with parents and specialists.
If you are a Speech Language Pathologist interested in job openings in your area or around the country, please contact us.
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