Feeding Concerns for Babies with Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate

Posted by Sarah Schuman, MS, CCC-SLP on 12/18/2017 to Liquid & Soft Diets and Recipes
What are the differences between cleft lip and cleft palate? 
Cleft lip and cleft palate are common birth conditions that occur as a baby is developing in utero. A cleft lip is an opening between the upper lip and the nose. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth. These openings range in variation and severity. 

How are they treated? 
Depending on the severity of the cleft, treatment may include surgery, dental and/or orthodontic care as well as involvement with a craniofacial team. This team may include a variety of healthcare professionals as well as speech therapists. 

Will my baby be able to breastfeed or bottle-feed? 
One of the most immediate concerns for a child born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate is adequate nutrition. Depending on the severity of the cleft lip or palate, breastfeeding and bottle-feeding may be possible with some adjustments. Babies with cleft lip may have difficulty creating an airtight seal around the nipple. Most babies with cleft lip are able to breastfeed/bottle-feed however depending on the level of difficulty, the baby may require a specialized bottle to aid in sufficient milk intake. Babies with cleft palate demonstrate difficulty creating enough pressure to suck effectively. They also may exhibit nasal regurgitation making it difficult to determine how much milk the baby is consuming. Consequently, these babies may require specialized bottles or syringes to aid in feeding. These bottles include nippled bottles with a one-way valve (pigeon valve) as well as soft squeeze bottles with a flexible straw. These soft squeeze bottles can also be used following cleft repair surgery to protect sutures. 

We offer a specialized bottle, the NUTRISQUEEZE™ SOFT SPOUT BOTTLE FOR A CLEFT LIP. It is easy to use and delivers required nutrients with less stress and maximal comfort!



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