Tips for Feeding Your Child
Point the nipple away from the cleft lip and palate
- Keep your baby upright at an angle between 45 and 90 degrees. This will help prevent milk from running out his nose.
- Try to keep his chin tucked toward the chest. This improves the suck and reduces the amount of swallowed air.
Be ready for nasal regurgitation
- If possible, angle the nipple away from the side of the mouth with the cleft lip and palate. This will help your child gag less.
- Do not place the nipple inside the cleft. Let the tongue reach for it and begin the sucking motion.
Ask about special bottles and nipples
- Nasal regurgitation is when food comes back out of your baby’s nose during a feeding. When this happens, do not panic. Pause to let your child sneeze or cough, wipe his nose and resume feeding.
- If this happens often, try holding your baby more upright during feedings.
- Keep your baby’s mouth and nose area clean. Use a bulb syringe as needed. If the area around the nose or lip is crusty, clean it gently with sterile water and a cotton swab.
- Let the feeding therapist know if this continues. She may be able to find a better bottle match.
Stick to a feeding schedule
- A bottle or nipple made for children with a cleft lip and palate can make feedings easier for you and your child.
- Ask the nurse, occupational therapist, nutritionist, lactation consultant or speech pathologist on your child’s Craniofacial team about such products.
Burp your baby often
- Place your baby on a feeding schedule. Within the first two weeks of life, a newborn may need to feed every two to three hours. Missed feedings might mean your baby is not taking enough volume at feedings.
- Limit feeding sessions to 20 to 30 minutes. Infants with a cleft lip and palate often work hard during feedings and tire easily. If allowed to feed longer, they may burn more calories than they take in from the bottle or breast.
- Ask your child’s Craniofacial team for help in preparing a feeding schedule for your child.
Keep your baby upright after feedings
- Burp your baby about every 15 minutes during and after feedings.
- Infants with a cleft lip and palate take in a lot of air when they swallow. This can cause painful gas buildup if they do not burp often.
- Wait 30 minutes after feeding before you let your baby lie down. This can reduce the chances of food being spit up.
- Use an infant seat, baby sling, bouncy seat or car seat to help keep your baby upright.
Follow these tips, and watch your baby closely for any problems:
- To make sure your baby is gaining weight as fast as he should, record his weight every week for four to six weeks. He should gain about 1 ounce each day after 2 weeks of age.
- Have regular checkups with your child's primary care doctor; share your child's records with his Craniofacial team.