Cleft Palate: Feeding Your Baby - Topic Overview
Feeding a baby who has
cleft palate can be a challenge. Your baby may have a problem making a tight seal between his or her mouth and the nipple. But with a little preparation, you can successfully feed your baby with breast milk or formula.
A health professional who specializes in babies with cleft palate
can show you how to bottle-feed your baby in the best way. The health
professional can also answer any questions you have about feeding
- Be patient, and don't rush yourself or your
- Use a soft, compressible nipple. Many different types of
nipples are available. Try several until you find one that works best for your
baby. Nipples that empty by gravity, such as the crosscut nipple, may work
best. The hospital where your baby is born will often supply a special bottle
or nipple for feeding a baby who has cleft palate.
- Use a bottle you
can squeeze. Squeeze it gently during feeding to help the flow of
- Prop your baby in an upright position to prevent the formula
from leaking into his or her nose.
- If needed, use splints or other
material to restrict your baby's arm movements so that your baby can't touch
and damage the stitches.
During and after feeding, be sure to burp your baby often. Babies
with cleft palate tend to swallow more air while feeding and may need more
frequent burping than other babies.
If you want to breast-feed your baby, talk with a health
professional or a breast-feeding (lactation) consultant. Although feeding your
baby directly at the breast usually is very challenging and not always
successful, you can use a breast pump to collect your breast milk in a bottle
and then feed it to your baby. Try using the above bottle-feeding