The feeding for children with cleft

The most important problem of children with cleft lip or palate, and which must immediately be resolved, is the feeding, so as to ensure the intake of a sufficient quantity of food. Babies with cleft palate may initially experience difficulties in breastfeeding, as it lacks the physical separation between the nose and mouth. This creates difficulties in infants, which in trying to feed swallow air, causing excessive belching or even vomiting.

The initial difficulties in feeding are easy to overcome. The techniques of new-borns feeding is something that all parents are familiar easily and discover with relief that the baby gaining weight satisfactorily.


  • The nipple and the areola may clog the vacuum in the cleft, thus facilitating the milk’s intake
  • The exercise with slight pressure with the fingers in the area of the areola can help milk flow
  • The preliminary kneading of the breast facilitates the milk’s accumulation in the area of the nipple and to run easily.
  • If difficulties persist, it may be preferable to pump the milk with a breast pump and given to the baby with bottle.



  • The nipple that is going to be used should be soft.
  • We do not recommend the use of special nipples for cleft palate that are available even commercially, because they are bulky and are usually hardly tolerated by the infant. Instead, we recommend rubber nipples, which soften with prolonged boiling.
  • Carving criss-cross the nipple with a pair of scissors, growing the opening and it is facilitated the flow of the milk or formula.
  • It is further recommended to use plastic baby bottles that can be compressed, thereby increasing the flow.
  • Finally, if all the mentioned above do not prove sufficient, there be used specially designed baby bottles, such as the baby bottle HABERMAN (where they are available in Greece and you can use them with a special film on YOUTUBE), or the baby bottle MEAD JOHNSON (that you can only procure online).
  • The baby bottles do not require sterilization after each use. Washing with warm water and soap is enough.

Μπιμπερό HabermanΜπιμπερό Mead Johnson

The feeding of new-borns with cleft palate (and cleft lip) differs in some points from the usual new-borns feeding.
  • The infants with cleft intake less quantity per meal, but they need more frequent meals.
  • During the infant’s feeding, you should be held in a more upright position in order to facilitate swallowing.
  • If the baby sneezes during feeding and puts milk from the nose, this does not mean that he/she is drowning. Simply, wipe the nose with a clean handkerchief.
  • The meal should not take more than 30 minutes. If it lasts longer, it is an indication of overexertion on his/her part and the technique should be adapted.
  • After each meal you must have the infant upright and with slightly heeltaps to the back help him/her to burp.
Indication of sufficient food intake is the normal weight gain. If he/she is not gaining weight properly, certain adjustments should be made in consultation with your paediatrician.