Feeding & Nutrition

The first, and often most important, step in the cleft care journey is ensuring the child is healthy enough for cleft surgery.

Child with a cleft on a scale

Feeding an Infant with a Cleft

Difficulty feeding may be one of the most critical problems parents of babies with clefts face. Before surgery, clefts may affect the normal action of sucking that is vital for feeding. This causes tremendous stress to parents, who now must ensure their child receives enough nutrition to gain enough weight to safely receive surgery. Even after cleft surgery, however, complications may make feeding difficult, requiring specialized care. The good news is that there are many resources and guides, such as those provided below, to help families keep their infants with clefts healthy and strong.

Smile Train Feeding Video Cover

Smile Train: Feeding Video

Feeding & Nutrition Workshop

Smile Train has partnered with the global nutrition organization SPOON to develop a two-day workshop called “Supporting Comprehensive Cleft Care Through Nutrition and Feeding” to train nurses, community health workers, and others on effective cleft feeding and nutrition strategies. Topics range from breastfeeding, safe bottle/cup/ spoon-feeding techniques, and weaning to addressing malnutrition. See our Training Programs – Cleft Team Resources for more information.

On-Going Feeding & Nutrition

When children with clefts continue through additional surgeries and treatments, they often still need support with feeding and nutrition. Resources are readily available online to help patients find ways to stay healthy through the continuum of their care. Face Bermuda - Peter's Delicious, Nutritious Recipes For Recovery.