Can my baby breastfeed with a cleft palate?
Babies born with a cleft palate have a split in the roof of the mouth. Generally, they cannot create the vacuum needed to latch onto a breast and get milk. If the baby can’t breastfeed and the mother wants to provide breast milk, she needs to express. Supplements need to be given using a feeding tool that does not rely on the baby creating suction. This may be a special type of nipple or a soft-sided bottle that allows the caregiver to squeeze the milk into the baby’s mouth. This process can pose challenges and mothers and babies benefit from extra support. One type of cleft palate is a submucous cleft. It is hard to see and may only be diagnosed long after birth. It can cause feeding problems, difficulty swallowing, a nasal voice, and chronic ear infections. Some babies are born with cleft lips. Depending on the severity, they may be able to breastfeed.