Babies are such funny-looking little things, aren’t they? I mean, we love them. They’re great. But they come out looking like little old people. It’s amazing.
One thing I noticed is that most babies look like recessed chin babies. Of course, they’ll grow out of this when they have developed more, but when your baby has the lower lip tucked inward, it can make breastfeeding a little more difficult.
Notice I said “difficult” and not “impossible.”
A newborn with the bottom lip tucked in isn’t the scariest concern, but if you want to get a good latch, you’ll have to get them to have flanged lips while breastfeeding. Watch for those baby lip quivers to see who’s hungry, and get ready to learn how to make it a breeze even with a baby lower lip tucked in while breastfeeding.
Will my baby always have a recessed chin?
The good news is that if you see your baby has a slightly recessed jaw, it will usually grow out of it. Around 3 to 4 months of age, you’ll notice her neck elongates, and the jaws move forward as the face develops.
But of course, if you are concerned about this and follow the tips I give you here and nothing seems to be working, please speak with your pediatrician. They can help you determine if they have a condition that causes the bottom lip to tuck in.
Why is my baby’s bottom lip tucked?
If your baby has a recessed jaw, it can cause some challenges with feeding time. Because of the alignment of the upper and lower jaw, it may not lend enough breathing room to coordinate the feeding. When the nipple and areola compress, it can make sucking and swallowing irritating for mamas.
You may have even tried a nipple shield, and thus, it can be tricky to get your baby off a nipple shield. It’s little wonder why so many babies are misdiagnosed with tongue-tie. However, changing your position to something more laid-back allows gravity to serve you both well.
How, you ask?
Because gravity propels the tongue and jaw forward, allowing the baby to suckle appropriately and freeing you from the pain.
Remember, breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt. If it does, you don’t have a proper latch. Or your baby is chomping on your boobs with teeth, but in the newborn stages, in those first tender weeks of life, it is scarce for a baby to have a tooth emerge.
It’s not easy for doctors to detect a true recessed jaw. That’s because babies naturally have this look. After all, they’re growing into their features. It’s very typical, though your doctor can monitor the gap between the upper and lower gum line if you have concerns.
How do I get my baby’s bottom lip to flange?
Until your doctor can truly assess whether your baby has a recessed jaw or is just growing into their face, the lower lip flip for breastfeeding is a tool you can use. This will work with a position that allows you to use gravity to help move things along.
When nursing your baby the right way, she should open wide and have what is called a “fish mouth.” That means the lips are flanged outward. Usually, the upper lip is easy to see in this way. But that bottom lip may be obscured by your breast.
You can feel underneath your breast with a clean hand to see if that bottom lip is flanged. As Dr. Sears has referred to, the lower lip flip may be the only thing you need to do to set things right.
Doing the lower lip flip keeps your baby’s mouth from going tight on your nipple. Remember, your baby shouldn’t just have the nipple in her mouth. She should have more of the surrounding area.
I get it. It feels weird because you have never had a baby before; this is all new territory. I totally understand because that was me over 10 years ago. I encourage all new mamas not to hesitate to contact your local La Leche League and connect with a lactation consultant or a breastfeeding coach. They will help be your guide, and you will feel that love and support from someone who can be there to assist you.
Once you get the latch right, it’s just like riding a bike. You’ll know how for each child you have.
So, to flip the lower lip and get that bottom lip to flange, just pull out that lower lip to create the fish mouth. Ideally, you should latch your baby with the lower lip hitting the breast first and then the upper lip. Anchor your baby’s lower lip away from the nipple. You want it at the edge of your areola for the perfect fit.
Again, all babies have funny faces that make them look like they have a recessed chin. You’ll notice them growing into their features for most of you, and this won’t be a concern anymore in the 3rd or 4th month.
Anytime you feel like something isn’t right, you should talk it over with the doctor and let them evaluate your child. Even if you’re just being a worrywart (as we all tend to be in the mom life), you’ll have peace of mind knowing everything is ok!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.