Tongue Tie

What is tongue-tie?

Nearly everybody has a lingual frenulum – the strip of tissue that joins our tongue to the floor of our mouth. Sometimes, this develops differently while the baby is in the womb, so it is short or tight. These babies can have trouble breastfeeding because they cannot move their tongues freely in all directions.

This is often called ‘tongue-tie’ or ‘ankyloglossia.’ It may be more helpful to talk about a ‘restrictive lingual frenulum’ because they are all different. Some need to be divided for breastfeeding to work well, some not.

If the movement of the tongue is restricted, it can mean breastfeeding is painful or difficult for you. Your baby may find it hard to get enough milk from the breast, so their weight gain may be slower than it should be.

Anyone experiencing pain or worry about their baby, needs skilled support and help.

Can Cambridge Breastfeeding Alliance tell me if my baby has a tongue-tie?

At Cambridge Breastfeeding Alliance, we will explore with you the many different reasons why you may have breastfeeding difficulties. Sometimes small adjustments in positioning can make a huge difference both to how it feels for you, and how effectively your baby is getting the milk they need.

As part of the support we give you, as well as observing your baby feeding, we may offer to assess how well your baby’s tongue moves up and down, side to side, and cupping. All these movements are necessary to breastfeed comfortably and effectively.  If you would like us to assess their tongue function, we will use a gloved finger to feel inside your baby’s mouth.

As we observe what your baby can do with their tongue, we will talk you through what we can feel. We will show you what we are looking for and explain as we work. We can then help you work out if it would be good to seek further skilled assessment from a specialist tongue tie practitioner.

If you have already been told elsewhere that your baby does, or does not, have a tongue tie, we can add our observations to the information you are working with.

Only a specialist tongue-tie practitioner can diagnose a tongue tie and suggest the best course of treatment. At Cambridge Breastfeeding Alliance we are not specialist tongue-tie practitioners. We can provide information about how to find one.

Assessment and treatment options in Cambridge

NHS Treatment

Please note waiting times for appointments vary.

For NHS treatment, parents see the baby’s GP, Health Visitor (HV), or midwife first. They can refer to the providers below. The Infant Feeding team at the Rosie Hospital can refer babies, if the Community Midwife contacts them. Babies can also be referred by an Infant Feeding Advisor, who is part of the Health Visiting service. To contact her, call the HV Duty Desk: 0300 029 5050

You can see her at an NHS group, or ask for a one-to-one appointment. You may also like to follow their facebook page: NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Infant Feeding.

NHS in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will fund tongue-tie assessments and treatments for babies up to 16 weeks, if causing problems for baby or mother. NHS assessment and treatment is free.


An appointment will be given to see a paediatric surgeon in an available outpatient clinic slot. There is no set clinic specifically for this procedure so appointment times may vary. They will see babies up to 12 weeks. They do not usually divide posterior tongue-ties.

Bedford Hospital

Oral Surgeon Mr Simpson and his team are trained to release all types of tongue-tie. Mr. Simpson, Dept. of Oral Surgery, Bedford Hospital, Kempston Rd., Bedford MK42 9DJ. For babies up to 18 weeks.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital

An appointment will be given to see a paediatric surgeon in an available outpatient clinic slot. They will see babies up to 12 weeks.

Norfolk & Norwich Hospital (NNU)

NNU takes referrals from GPs, HVs, Infant Feeding Advisors and midwives, including Community Midwives, using the NNU referral form.

Private options

This website lists International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) with specialist training in breastfeeding support and tongue-tie release, who are also registered health professionals:

Association of Tongue-tie Practitioners: 

Click on the page ‘Find a tongue-tie divider.’

A private practitioner will be able to see you at home or in a clinic setting to assess and release the tongue-tie if appropriate and with your informed consent. The procedure costs approx £220. Discuss aftercare when booking: some practitioners include repeat visits (if needed), video or phone calls in their package; some cost these separately.

Further information about tongue-ties

Cranial osteopaths

Sometimes we may suggest that you explore seeing a cranial osteopath for your baby. These are osteopaths in the Cambridge area who are work with babies.