Notice: Users may be experiencing issues with displaying some pages on stanfordhealthcare.org. We are working closely with our technical teams to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.
The most immediate concern for a baby with cleft palate is good nutrition. Sucking for children with a cleft palate is difficult because of the poorly formed roof of the mouth. Children with just a cleft lip (without a cleft palate) do not routinely have feeding difficulties. The following are suggestions to help aid in the feeding of your infant:
Breastfeeding is allowed. It will take extra time and patience. Be open for alternatives if this is not providing adequate nutrition for your infant. You may still pump your breast and feed your infant breast milk through other techniques.
Hold your infant in an upright position to help keep the food from coming out of the nose.
Other feeding devices may be utilized. Consult with your child's physician for more information.
Small, frequent feedings are recommended. This can be a frustrating and slow process, however, your infant will receive more calories, and therefore, gain weight.
There are many types of bottles and nipples on the market that can assist with feeding an infant with cleft palate. Consult with your child's physician regarding which type is most appropriate for your child. The following are a few examples:
NUK nipple - This nipple can be placed on regular bottles or on bottles with disposable bags. The hole can be made larger by making a criss-cross cut in the middle.
Mead Johnson Nurser® - This is a soft, plastic bottle that is easy to squeeze and has a large crosscut nipple. You may use any nipple that the infant prefers with this system.
Haberman Feeder® - This is a specially designed bottle system with a valve to help control the air the baby drinks and to prevent milk from going back into the bottle.
Syringes - These may be used in hospitals following cleft surgery and may also be used at home. Typically, a soft, rubber tube is attached on the end of the syringe, which is then placed in the infant's mouth.
In some cases, supplements may be added to breast milk or formula to help your infant meet his/her calorie needs. Consult your child's physician regarding other home devices (i.e., small paper cups) for feeding your child with a cleft palate.