After we were told our daughter had a bilateral cleft lip and palate, we did a lot of research. All the reading we did said that we would be unable to breastfeed because she would not have the ability to create suction in her mouth. I planned to pump exclusively and give her expressed breastmilk.

When our daughter was born and we saw that it was unilateral and she had a strong suck, we tried to nurse. Unfortunately, she was still unable to latch on properly, so our cleft team gave us a Medela Special Needs Feeder (formerly known as a Haberman).

The nipple was long enough to get behind her cleft palate, allowing her to suck normally. Within a month, she was frustrated with the nipple and her weight gain slowed down.

We think it was because the bottle didn't feed her fast enough, she would fuss unless we squeezed the nipple to make it flow faster. After hearing that, her speech therapist gave us a new nipple to try in its place.

I got so excited with the Pigeon nipple because she was more milk in less time. Because it was significantly cheaper and seemed to be working very well, I jumped the gun and bought several more, only for her to stop using it within a few days. It, too, didn't go fast enough for her, so we started assisting her by squeezing the bottle as well. Our plastic surgeon suggested I cut a little hole in it until it dripped and she was satisfied. We cut a hole in them and also stopped using the one way valve. We were on the hunt for regular nipples after that.

With the help of a group on BabyCenter, we discovered that other babies with cleft palates did very well with Dr. Brown nipples. We took a chance and bought one of each stage and found their standard Y cut nipples on regular bottles did the trick!

We started her on rice cereal when she was four months old to help her gain some weight. It upset her stomach so we waited another month before trying again. I was worried that the cleft palate would affect her ability to eat, but she LOVES her solids! Occasionally puréed food will come out of her nose, but it's usually from using her tongue and playing with it. It doesn't bother her at all.

My supply dried out shortly before she turned six months so we began formula feeding and doing the occasional solids. Now that she's older she eats EVERYTHING. I love having a little foodie! :)