Q&A: How Do I Feed Baby?

My baby has a cleft palate. How can I feed him breast milk?
profile picture of Catherine Watson Genna, BS, IBCLC
ByCatherine Watson Genna, BS, IBCLC
Lactation Specialist
Updated
Jan 2017
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If the cleft is very small and in the soft palate only, the baby may be able to breastfeed. If the cleft is larger, it will be necessary to use a special technology to feed. Special bottles are made to feed babies with clefts. There is also the possibility of feeding the baby at your breast with a special tube system. To try this option, you will need expert help. Even if your baby can’t breastfeed, your milk is extra important to him and healing his cleft, so pumping is well worth the work. Doing at least some feedings at the breast with a tube helps improve the baby’s tongue movements and can spread the palate. Another option for babies with cleft palate is very early repair, in the first week of life, which then allows them to breastfeed. Talk to your doctor to find out your options.

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