Babies born with a cleft lip and/or palate may have difficulty feeding because they cannot suck properly. Due to the gap in the palate babies can have difficulty achieving the suction required to get the milk out of the breast and/or feeding bottle. An individual decision has to be made for each child as to the most appropriate way to feed.
The decision concerning feeding may be based on the following factors:
♥ Severity and nature of the cleft
♥ The baby’s urge and ability to suck
♥ Mother’s attitude to breast feeding
♥ Family situation and support mechanisms.
There are special feeding bottles and teats that help with feeding cleft babies. Soft polythene bottles and specially designed teats are available to assist with any reduction in sucking capacity.
The most common bottles used in NSW and ACT include:
Pigeon Cleft Bottle – comes with two teats, a small and a regular. Teats also available for sale individually
Chu Chu Teat – commonly used with the Mam bottle
MAM bottle – bottle only, does not come with a teat. Commonly used with the chu chu teat
SpecialNeeds Feeder – different sized teats available for this bottle.
Many mothers express milk for their cleft palate baby and feed with one of the above bottle/teats. If you are expecting a baby with a cleft, ensure you and/or your birth hospital have a cleft feeding bottle on hand ready to use when baby is born.
If you would like more information on feeding equipment, please contact CleftPALS NSW on (02) 9294 8944.