Weaning with a cleft palate

Oscar smiling at me

Unfortunately Oscar was born with a cleft palate. It’s quite common in the UK and 1 in 700 babies are born with a cleft palate. Feeding has been slightly more difficult as he is unable to suck (he can’t get a vacuum to suck) and so we have use a special squeezy bottle to give him milk. We effectively ‘squeeze’ the milk into his mouth and he drinks it. Sometimes the milk goes up his nose and he does get a lot of wind but he is doing very well and thriving.

Weaning presents it’s own challenges but being a dietitian has given me confidence to overcome these.  Here are a few things I have learnt along the way;

  1. Weaning is really messy. Food does go up his nose and he sneezes alot. Never wear a white t-shirt when serving carrots!
  2. Give drink breaks. Between mouthfuls of food give some sips of milk (formula or breastmilk) or water to help your baby clear out his mouth/nose.
  3. Play with the texture. Stage 1 purees were too runny for Oscar. They kept going up his nose. I found that by adding baby cereal, rice or porridge to fruit/vegetable purees to make them thicker helped a lot. Every baby is different so you may need to play with the texture to get it just right for your little one.
  4. Be careful with citrus fruits. Oscar has not had any of these yet but I have heard these can be harder to tolerate due to the acidity
  5. Get advice from your cleft team. We were advised to start weaning at 4 months so Oscar would be used to solids by the time of his operation. Please follow guidance from your cleft team.
  6. Alot of the normal weaning advice still applies. Like all babies, your baby still needs to experience a range of textures and flavours by the age of 1 year. this is to ensure that good eating habits develop for life. Don’t be put off by the cleft palate!

TOP TIP: Weaning is pretty much the same with a cleft palate baby. You may need to make a few minor tweaks but it is still a fun adventure and Oscar is really enjoying his food. 

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