Feeding & Nutrition

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

Feeding & Nutrition

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 specialised 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.

Our Five-Year Commitment

On September 22, 2021 Smile Train officially announced our five-year commitment to scaling our investment in global nutrition. By the end of 2026, through awareness campaigns, advocacy, program expansion, partnerships, training, and education of health workers, Smile Train’s increased investment in nutrition will result in:

  1. More than one million mothers and children benefiting from cleft-specific feeding counseling 
  2. More than 55,000 child malnutrition cases averted 
  3. Over 40,000 educational opportunities on cleft feeding and nutrition 
  4. More than 1,000 partner hospitals across  70+ countries empowered to offer nutrition services to every mother and child pair affected by cleft 
  5. Over 250 partner hospitals in an organized network offering advanced nutritional care for malnourished children affected by clefts 
  6. A 40% reduction of the number of stunted children undergoing cleft surgery 

When it comes to nutrition and to protecting the health of communities and securing the future of children around the world, we can’t delay. You can find more information and resources around cleft nutrition below. Interested in joining us in our commitment? Email: nutrition@smiletrain.org

Smile Train Video Feeding Cover

Smile Train: Feeding Video

Feeding & Nutrition Workshop

Smile Train has partnered with the global nutrition organisation 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 programmes – Cleft Team Resources for more information.