Caring for a Baby with Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate

  • Know that cleft lip and/or palate is correctable with surgery. There are resources to help with the process caring for a child with a diagnosis of this sort. The team approach is comprised of a group of health care professionals (surgeons, dentists, speech pathologists, mental health specialists, and others) who work together to treat a child with a facial birth defect.
  • You, a family member or your primary care provider may contact the Clinical Cleft Palate/Craniofacial Team Coordinator at 254-724-4868 or 254-724-5640 to submit a referral and begin care with the team at Scott & White.
  • Review feeding instructions. The Clinical Team Coordinator and a speech pathologist will show how to feed your child using the different bottle type that the child prefers.
  • A few bottles can be provided by the Clinical Team Coordinator or other staff members related to the child’s care.
  • After discharge the child will be evaluated at a month of age for a weight check, and a team visit will be scheduled as soon as one becomes a available.
  • The family should not be sent home without proper coaching on feeding, bottles and counseling from the Clinical Team Coordinator and possibly a visit by the plastic surgeon.
  • The mother should be comfortable feeding the child. One of the reasons babies affected with cleft lip/palate are readmitted to the hospital after being sent home is failure to thrive or poor weight gain. This can be helped by making sure the parents understand how to feed the baby and are comfortable with the feeding process.
  • Discharge coordinators set up the usual follow up appointments for the baby. The Clinical Team Coordinator will set up the return appointments for the team visits.
  • A child affected with only a cleft of the lip usually will not experience any feeding problems.
  • A child diagnosed with a Submucous Cleft Palate PDF Document may experience the same issues as a child with a cleft palate.

Additional information and booklets can be found at www.cleftline.org.


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