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How can I teach my 1-year-old, who has a cleft palate, to drink?

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My 1-year-old daughter has a cleft of the soft palate and we are having some problems teaching her to drink from a sippy cup and straw. She just doesn't know to suck. She has been using a special nipple (Medela Haberman) since she was about a week old. Do you have any suggestions? She will have surgery to correct the cleft in a few months.


It is difficult to advise you exactly as I don't know the size of the cleft in her palate, whether the lip is involved, and how much control she has over the muscles of her mouth and throat. If she gets liquid up her nose every time she tries to use a cup, she will resist doing it. The straw may be even harder as it requires that she make a vacuum in her mouth, and that may be impossible until the surgery corrects the problem. I think you will be surprised at how fast she catches up after the procedure. Meanwhile, keep her nutrition up with the special bottle feedings so she is in good shape for the procedure. I hope you are also keeping good track of her ears and her hearing as this is usually an additional issue that we have to address with children with cleft palate.  

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