In the past, pediatricians routinely recommended cutting the frenulum of the tongue, the thin membrane that links it to the lower palate, if it was shorter than average at birth. They believed that this condition, known as “tongue tie,” could impede nursing and even hinder language development later in life. Why take a chance, they figured.
Here’s why. Go to the nearest mirror. Pull your tongue out, lift it up, and look underneath. See how thin and stretchy the membrane is? You’ll see that even if yours were a little shorter, it would hardly restrict your tongue’s range of motion. The so-called tongue tie is a misnomer: Apart from a rare condition in which the tongue is tethered to the palate with a thick membrane that truly restricts motion, a thin, short membrane is merely a normal anatomical variant.
You may occasionally encounter a doctor or lactation specialist who still recommends clipping to solve any existing breast-feeding problems or to prevent speech impairment [See: Breast-Feeding Specialist]. Neither medical research nor my personal experience supports any benefits from this procedure. Simply admire the mobility of your kid’s tongue, even if the membrane is relatively small. You’ll save money, and you’ll spare Lucy an unnecessary and painful procedure.
This is another normal variant of the tongue. In some older kids, areas of the tongue’s surface appear slightly whiter than others, thus forming a design that resembles a map. Taste is unaffected, and the tongue usually becomes uniform with time.