A baby with a cleft palate sucking on a pacifier

How to Choose a Cleft Palate-Friendly Pacifier

Babies born with cleft lip and palate face challenges early on, sometimes including surgery and physical therapy. There have been great medical advances for treating cleft palates, but there are not any pacifiers specifically designed for affected babies. There are several ways to still introduce a pacifier. Here are some useful tips and tricks concerning cleft palates and pacifier use.

Understanding Cleft Palate and Pacifiers

One thing to keep in mind is that successful sucking is accomplished when a vacuum seal is created. This isn’t possible for a baby with a cleft palate. When a straw is broken, all you get is a bunch of air when you try to suck a liquid through it. This is similar to the feeling of a baby attempting to create suction with a cleft palate. He or she is not able to create the vacuum needed to keep the pacifier in his or her mouth. This does not mean that the baby doesn’t have the urge to suck though.

When and How to Use a Pacifier

If you feel your baby will benefit from the comfort of a pacifier then a parent or caregiver can hold the pacifier in the baby’s mouth. Gently support the pacifier in your child's mouth while he or she ssatisfies the need to suck. Many parents say they have the best luck with silicone based pacifiers. The pacifier shape that is best for your baby depends on the location and size of the cleft palate. You should buy several different types and sizes of pacifiers to see which one works best for your baby. Older infants may learn to support the pacifier themselves. The pacifiers that have stuffed animals attached could be easier for your baby to hold onto it.

Pros and Cons

It is important to weigh the positives and negatives before introducing your child to a pacifier. If you child is fussy and wants to eat excessively it might be worth it give your child a pacifier. Some babies have such an urge to suck that it is not completely satisfied by feedings. But if it is something that doesn’t seem to interest your baby it would be a good idea to skip pacifiers all together. Since someone will have to hold or support the pacifier, it can mean a lot of extra time spent holding a pacifier. If you have further questions about pacifiers and your child you should consult with your child’s pediatrician or a specialist. They can give you further insight on how to decide if a pacifier is right for your baby. 

Last Updated: October 13, 2014