Once your child’s feeding skills are assessed, the feeding team can talk with you about a nipple and bottle for your baby. The feeding team is made up of a nutritionist, lactation consultant, occupational therapist and speech pathologist. Depending on the size and type of the cleft lip and palate, your baby may need a special bottle or nipple. There is no "perfect" nipple. The best nipple is the one that works best for your child.
Some of the nipples commonly used by the feeding team at Children’s include:
- The Mead Johnson Cleft Palate Nurser has a cross-cut nipple so parents can control the flow of food by squeezing the bottle.
- The Pigeon nipple has a hard side that is placed at the roof of the mouth and a soft side placed on top of the tongue. No suction is needed to express formula, just compression of the tongue.
- The Haberman Feeder has a silicone nipple with varied flow rate. The baby may be able to feed by himself once he learns how to use it. This nipple does allow for squeezing by parents to help your baby's sucking if needed.
The feeding team may suggest other nipples and bottles. In most cases, a bottle will work for your baby. In a few cases, a baby may be unable to take full feedings by mouth or be unsafe to feed by mouth. A feeding tube may be needed. The feeding team will then work with you to move toward all feedings by mouth when your child is ready.