A cleft palate impacts the formation of your baby's mouth. With cleft palate, the roof of your baby's mouth doesn't form as it should, which can make eating a little more challenging for your baby. However, it is not impossible for your baby to eat, they just need a little more support in order to do so.
Skip Traditional Breast Feeding
Baby's with cleft palate can't usually suck and inhale milk the same way as other babies. This can make breast feeding very difficult to achieve if your child has this condition. That doesn't mean that you have to give up on breast feeding; it just means that if you want your child to have breast milk, you are more than likely going to need to pump your breast milk instead of having your baby suck directly from your breasts. Your baby will still be able to enjoy breast milk, you are just going to have to go about giving it them in a different manner. Pumping your milk is a great alternative to make sure your baby gets the milk they need.
Get a Special Bottle
Next, you are going to have to test out a few different bottles to find the right bottle for your baby. This is true even if your child doesn't have a cleft palate. It can be a process of trial and error to find a bottle that your baby likes.
For your child, you should ask the hospital for a list of bottles that they would recommend. You are going to want to look into bottles that are specifically made for babies with cleft palate or fast flow silicone nipples that have been modified. Get a few different types of bottles and nipples to try out for your baby.
Feeding Your Baby
When you bottle feed your baby, you are going to want to tilt the bottle so that the nipple of the bottle has milk in it. When your baby is young, that may require you to use a smaller infant feeder so that way your baby is not getting too much milk.
When feeding your baby, allow your baby to suck on the bottle, then swallow and breath. Make sure, especially when your baby is swallowing and breathing, that you don't squeeze the bottle.
It is natural for milk to come out of your baby's nose while feeding when your child has a cleft palate. Do not worry when this happens; allow your baby to clear it out on their own.
You are going to need to burp your baby more often, but don't be so focused on burping your baby that you interrupt their feedings.
When it comes to feeding your baby with a cleft palate, have patience and work with your health care provider to make sure your baby is getting enough food. If you want to breastfeed, pump your milk so that it can be given via a special bottle to your child. Invest in some special bottles until you find the right one for your baby.