For Hospitals and Health Professionals
Thank you for spending some time to find out more about cleft lip and palate.
Parents who have had a diagnosis of cleft lip / palate in their baby are usually upset, worried, shocked and frightened. First and foremost they need reassurance that their baby will be OK. There is a large support network available. Please encourage them to contact CleftPALS to tap into help and information.
Feeding a cleft affected baby
Almost all babies born with cleft lip / palate will need extra help with feeding:
- Most cleft affected babies are not able to use a “normal” bottle
- Some cleft affected babies are able to use a squeezy bottle such as the CleftPALS Queensland bottle or MAM bottle. Almost all babies are able to use a Special Needs (Haberman) feeder. Where possible, we recommend trying a baby first on a Queensland or MAM bottle, as these are simpler to use and less costly for parents. If squeezy bottles are not successful, the Special Needs Feeder is the best solution, though note this is also the most expensive option for parents. The size, shape and severity of the cleft is not an indicator of which bottle will be most successful
- Cleft palate babies cannot feed directly from the breast. The hole in their palate means they are unable to form a seal. Unfortunately we see a lot of new parents who have been encouraged to “give breastfeeding a try”. This adds to their distress at a vulnerable time and is never successful. Exploring options involving formula and / or expressed breastmilk is appropriate with a cleft palate baby
- Cleft lip only (intact palate) babies are occasionally able to feed directly from the breast, however in many cases they will also need special bottles. Even a baby with a fused cleft lip or a repaired cleft lip may not be able to breastfeed or use a “normal” bottle
- More information on feeding equipment available here
Information for hospitals and health professionals
We like to help share information about cleft lip and palate. CleftPALS Vic can:
- Supply feeeding equipment including squeezy bottles and Special Needs Feeders (Habermans) and feeding equipment advice
- Send information packs
- Offer advice to hospitals and medical professionals. We have parent volunteers who visit hospitals and train staff in the parent perspective and demonstrate feeding equipment
Just let us know how we can help.
We are volunteers, not medical professionals. Information on this site is not a substitute for professional advice and no responsibility is accepted by CleftPALS.