Feeding a newborn can sometimes be a challenging task for new parents. Feeding a newborn with a cleft lip and/or palate can add to that challenge. We always encourage breast feeding, but it may not be possible for an infant with a very ineffective suck due to a cleft palate. Pumping and offering breast milk in a Haberman Feeder or Pigeon bottle may be a good option.
Feeding an infant serves many functions besides providing nutrition for growth and development. It strengthens the bond between baby and parent; it exercises oral muscles, and it provides pleasure from sucking.
A healthy full term infant usually needs 2-3 oz of breast milk or formula per pound of body weight per day to gain weight. For a 6 lb baby that is 18 oz, for an 8 lb baby that is 24 oz per day. Your pediatrician may wish to weigh your baby weekly to make sure they are gaining at an adequate rate.
Some babies with cleft palates are such slow feeders that they burn more calories than they take in. Feeding should be limited to 30 minutes to avoid tiring the baby too much.
There is help available from the nurses at CSHN, the pediatrician’s office, the hospital staff, visiting nurses and lactation consultants to make the feeding experience as comfortable and beneficial as possible. The nurses at CSHN are available to visit you and your baby at the hospital or at home. We can assist with breast feeding or provide specially designed bottles to use for feeding.
There is a lot of good feeding information on the web sites listed. There are also several good books available. Please don’t be shy about asking questions. The more comfortable you and your infant are with feeding the easier it will be to develop a feeding routine that works for your family.