Breastfeeding a cleft lip only baby is possible and with a little bit of perserverance and support entirely achieveable.  In addition to the benefits of receiving your breast milk, the action of sucking helps develop important palate muscles vital for good speech.  If you breast feed your baby there is a smaller fast period prior to the first surgery and when the baby returns from surgery (with your surgeons permission) the baby is allowed straight back on the breast and can be discharged within 24 hours of their lip repair.

Breastfeeding a cleft palate baby is much more difficult because the baby is unable to achieve a vacuum from which to draw the milk from the breast.  A good alternative to breastfeeding for cleft palate babies is to hire a breast pump and feed your baby expressed breastmilk.

CleftPALS WA sells a range of subsidized bottles and teats that are approved for use with cleft babies by the Cleft Unit at PMH.  It is important to remember that feeding is important not only for the essential nutrition that your baby requires but also for exercising and using those oral and facial muscles that will be required for eating and speaking later on.

A much more comprehensive guide to feeding is provided in your Parent Kit,  “Breastfeeding Babies with Clefts of Lip and/or Palate” an Australian Breastfeeding Association Booklet.

Here is an article from our Newsletter in August 2007 - Let’s look at bottle feeding a child with a cleft.

We came accross this information recently we thought might come in useful.  It's from the "Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine" - click here for the article "ABM Clinical Protocol #17: Guidelines for Breastfeeding Infants with Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate, or Cleft Lip and Palate".

‘Spoon feeding is used in the recovery period after surgery’

Please click here to view a video of a baby being spoon fed with a pigeon bottle.

A big thank you to the “May” family for sharing this video.



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We are volunteers, not medical professionals. Information on this site is not a substitute for professional advice and no responsibility is accepted by CleftPALS.