A Good Question is a series of posts inspired by common questions from patients and families.
Although there are no specialty pacifiers for babies affected by cleft lip and palate, a bit of education and a lot of improvisation may help parents satisfy baby’s intense need to suck.
Successful sucking relies on the creation of a vacuum, an impossible accomplishment for a baby with a cleft. Have you ever tried to use a drinking straw that didn’t work? Only to discover that it had a hole in its side? That’s very similar to what happens when a baby with a cleft tries to suck: She’s always pulling air through with her suck making it impossible for her to create the vacuum-suction needed to hold the pacifier in her mouth.
For the youngest babies who seem to enjoy a pacifier, many parents and caregivers simply settle in for the duration, gently supporting the pacifier in baby’s mouth so baby may enjoy the satisfaction of sucking without depending on true suction to keep the pacifier in place. Many parents tell us they have the best luck with the softest, silicone-based pacifiers they can find. The pacifier’s size and shape are other considerations and may vary depending on size and location of the cleft in the palate.
For older infants, perhaps six-plus months, who may have the motor-skill development to support their own pacifier, something like the WubbaNub* might be a good alternative.*CPF does not endorse or recommend any particular product or brand.
What pacifier advice do you have to share?