Why Does My Child Have Difficulty Eating?

Picky eaters are a common issue that many parents face. Your child may often prefer sweet treats over healthier options and persuading them to eat their veggies may become increasingly challenging over time. Although this can be frustrating for a parent -do not give up - there are ways to improve your child’s diet!


Many parents have been successful by simply changing how they cook and prepare certain foods for their children. For example, broccoli might be more tasty with cheese or cut into smaller pieces and mixed in with other foods. Maybe you’ve tried all of the tricks and are still finding that your child refuses to eat certain foods. Consulting with your pediatrician is always a good idea, but if you’ve done that and still no luck, you may want to consider lip and tongue-tie conditions as the true culprits of your child’s pickiness.


What are Lip and Tongue-Tie Conditions?


Lip-tie and tongue-tie conditions occur at birth when the frenulum does not detach itself from the lip or tongue. A child could be born with one or both conditions. Many parents and pediatricians are unaware of this condition and, as a result, is often overlooked and misdiagnosed. A misdiagnosis can occur due to the many symptoms that parents notice during infancy such as:

  • Difficult tongue movement
  • Reflux
  • Gasps for air during feedings
  • Baby falls asleep while feeding before consuming enough milk
  • Gas or hiccups after feeding
  • Poor latching
  • Makes smacking sounds during feedings
  • Latches with gums
  • Oral blisters
  • Poor weight gain
  • Gulps milk
  • Inability to use a pacifier
  • Prefers to be bottle fed

In extreme cases, babies with lip and tongue-tie conditions can suffer from malnourishment. Also, if the conditions are left untreated, the child is likely to develop other health issues such as:

  • Teeth clenching
  • Teeth grinding
  • Snoring
  • Sleep apnea
  • Mouth breathing
  • Difficulty chewing food
  • Delayed speech
  • Lisp
  • Dental health issues
  • Speech issues
  • Migraines
  • Narrow airways
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Snoring
  • Narrow palate
  • Underbite or overbite
  • Chronic asthma
  • Rhinitis
  • Neck, back, or jaw pain

How Do Lip and Tongue-Ties Affect My Child’s Eating?


We highly recommend that parents seek a professional consultation from a lip and tongue-tie specialist if your child does any of the following:

Chokes or Gags on Food

Since the excess frenulum restricts natural lip and tongue movement, moving food into and around the mouth is challenging. As a result, larger pieces of food moves toward the throat and gagging or choking occurs.

Chews then Spits the Food Out

Some children will want to eat certain foods but cannot swallow it. Consequently, they spit the food out and continue to bite into the food.

Stores Food in the Cheeks or in Between the Lip and Teeth

Children quickly learn if they cannot swallow certain foods. Some resort to pocketing it in the mouth.

Prefers Very Soft Foods

Every child is different and will cope with their lip or tongue-tie differently. Therefore, some children may prefer foods like applesauce or boiled vegetables.

Avoids Solid or Hard Foods

A child could have had a very difficult time swallowing a certain type of food. They may have even choked or gagged. As a result, they firmly decline these food options.

Eats Small Portions at a Time

Eating is likely to be a challenge for your child. It usually causes strain in the jaw and neck area as the child struggles to consume food. For this reason, you may notice your child eating small portions with breaks in between or choosing to not finish their meal.

Not Thriving as Other Children Their Age

Every child will develop differently. However, significant weight and height difference is a common sign of lip or tongue-tie condition. Children suffering from either condition are not consuming the proper nutrients needed.


Obviously, nutrition is very important for every child, and treating lip and tongue-tie conditions is essential for their overall health. Lip and tongue-ties limit a child’s natural lip and tongue movement. As a result, chewing food properly becomes a challenge. In addition, malnutrition and poor eating habits are likely to occur. For example, your child may choke and gag during most meals which raise concerns for safety. This is why we highly recommend treating the conditions as soon as possible.


Treating Lip and Tongue-Tie Conditions with CO2 Laser Therapy


CO2 laser therapy is the most advanced, safe, and quickest method of treating lip and tongue-tie conditions. This procedure can be used for infants, children, and adults. In short, it uses carbon dioxide to evaporate the frenulum within seconds. Also, CO2 laser treatment sanitizes the area which allows it to heal with minimal blood loss. In fact, infants can immediately nurse and children along with adults can eat and drink afterward.


Ask a Lip and Tongue-Tie Specialist


If you believe your child may have either condition, seek a consultation from a lip and tongue-tie specialist. This expert is trained and experienced in diagnosing and treating these commonly overlooked health issues. In fact, parents are welcomed to contact Dr. Fawn Rosenberg of Lexington Smile Studio today. She has well over 20 years of experience treating lip and tongue-ties with CO2 laser therapy for infants, children, and adults. Call (781) 861-SMILE or book an appointment online at www.LexingtonSmileStudio.com.


About Fawn Rosenberg, DMD, FAGD


Dr. Fawn Rosenberg graduated from Tufts School of Dental Medicine in 1985 and received her Fellowship from the Academy of General Dentistry in 1990. Since then, Dr. Rosenberg has been using a variety of lasers in dentistry for more than 20 years. Her credentials have been recognized at Brigham and Women’s Hospital along with Tufts, Boston, and Harvard universities where she previously held staff appointments.


Dr. Rosenberg is devoted to continuing her education while participating in dental organizations. She is an active member of the Massachusetts Dental Society, Academy of General Dentistry, American Dental Association, Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, International Affiliation of Tongue-Tie Professionals and International Consortium of Oral Ankylofrenula Professionals.

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