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;
- Weaning is really messy. Food does go up his nose and he sneezes alot. Never wear a white t-shirt when serving carrots!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.