Hi everyone, I will give you a recipe eventually but first I want to use this blog as a bully pulpit to alert you to a fairly common problem in newborns that is easily diagnosed and easily fixed — but for whatever reason in our crazy medical system often isn’t.
Many babies are born tongue-tied, which means something way different than awkward with words. Others have a related problem, lip tie. These ties are thin cords of tissue connecting the bottom of the tongue to the palate or the upper or lower lip to the gum. If they are short or in the wrong place they can interfere with feeding. Later in life they can cause eating and speech problems.
I feel like a minor expert now because my nearly four-month-old granddaughter was born with a tongue and a lip tie. The tongue tie was noticed in the hospital but no one felt the need to do anything about it because the baby seemed to be nursing,
Well, she wasn’t nursing properly. She wasn’t getting enough milk. Because her anatomy forced her to work extra hard and mis-use some of her facial muscles, she would get fatigued easily and fall asleep halfway through a feed. With the baby demanding less, my daughter wasn’t producing as much milk as she should have been.
The first solution, as usual, was to suggest bottle-feeding. In my granddaughter’s case, this wasn’t suggested until the baby was three months old, by which time she had no interest in a bottle. She wouldn’t swallow anything that didn’t come directly from mama. And she started losing weight.
My daughter found the solution almost by accident. She had gone to a lactation consultant, who recommended using a “supplemental nursing system.” Pumped breast milk or formula is put into a small bottle, and a very thin tube leading from the bottle is taped next to the mother’s nipple, so that the baby takes in extra while she’s nursing.
The only place to get the supplemental nursing system was from another lactation consultant. This one, upon hearing my daughter’s story, immediately suspected a tie, and when she looked at my granddaughter, she could immediately see a tongue tie and a lip tie. Because she couldn’t move her tongue and lip properly, my granddaughter wasn’t able to get a good grasp on the breast and wasn’t able to get as much food as she needed.
The lactation consultant referred my daughter to a dentist who uses a water laser to cut the ties, and three days later we were in the dentist’s office. The procedure was fast and painless — they know because they also do it on adults. Within a few days, my granddaughter was able to get a better “latch” on her mom and started eating better. She quickly started to gain weight again. (We’re talking ounces here, but when you weigh only 9 pounds, every ounce counts.)
Why a dentist? The lactation consultant told us dentists are at the forefront of developing effective ways to treat oral ties because they see the ongoing problems ties can cause in older children and adults. Speech pathologists are also strong advocates for better treatment because they also see the adverse results.
Most doctors pooh-pooh the idea of correcting ties in infancy, even though it’s such a simple procedure. A friend of my daughter’s, whose child has a lip tie, was actually told by the pediatrician not to worry, that the child would one day fall down and rip the tie. This is a solution?
I’m moving so far from food today just to alert you — anyone who is pregnant, or has a baby, or knows someone who does — that this problem exists and that it’s very easy to fix. But don’t rely on hospital nurses or pediatricians to point the way.
And now on to food — a nice recipe for a lazy Sunday morning or even a weekday supper.
I got the recipe from Annabel Cohen, who used it in her column in the Detroit Jewish News.
2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking power
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans
1¾ cup milk or orange juice
½ cup melted butter
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Heat a waffle iron.
Combine dry ingredients – flour through pecans – in a large bowl bowl and whisk well. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk well. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir till combined.
Spoon the batter into the waffle iron and bake until brown.
Serve with real maple syrup.