slide show

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cleft bottles and cups 101

I have been gathering help from other cleft mamas for this post - so this is a collaboration of my knowledge and other caring mamas who shared their knowledge :-)  When we first accepted our daughter's referral, I had no idea how to feed her.  I had about 5 months to do some research but it took a long time and I read through a lot of websites/blogs.  So I thought it might be helpful to do a post for my cleft mama (or dad!) readers based on my research in combination with others.

There is no correct way to feed your child - ultimately you'll feed them the way that works best.  And of course if your child is older, you could always use a regular cup.  But below are a few options for bottles and sippys to help you on your way.  They are in no particular order, except that the bottles are at the top of the list.  I have linked to Amazon or other website above the image for each product and also mentioned any alterations needed to make the bottle/cup work for cleft-affected children.  The big thing to keep in mind is that cleft-affected children cannot create suction, and can therefore not suck a bottle or sippy cup.  They will not be able to drink out of a normal bottle or sippy that requires sucking without some kind of alteration.  But have no fear, there are many simple ways to make bottles and cups work!

The Haberman Feeder
(No alteration needed - designed for cleft/special needs feeding.  I have heard nothing but great things about them but they are expensive and have a short lifespan, so they need to be replaced when worn out.  No sucking required - they have a special nipple and one-way valve - the nipple only needs pressure to work.)

(Again, no alteration needed - designed for cleft palate use.  They are super-cheap but in my experience, a little difficult to work with because you need to squeeze the bottle and there isn't much airflow.  However, other adoptive mamas have told me that they are absolutely fantastic and quite easy for their kids to figure out how to use on their own, without parental help.)

(No alterations needed - designed for cleft lip & palate use.  One of the bottles has a spoon on the end (several moms have told me they spoon-fed their babies formula), and the other more-popular one looks more like a regular bottle but works with a special nipple and one-way valve like the Haberman.  I have also heard great review of this bottle.)

(Cut larger hole in nipple, squeeze bottle to feed.  They are super-cheap and BPA-free - they worked well for us but it does get exhausting to be constantly squeezing the bottle for your child.)

(No alterations needed - by applying pressure to nipple, child is able to express drink out of the bottle.  Born Free nipples work well as replacements.)

(No alternations needed again - parent can squeeze the drink into the child's mouth with the soft silicone bottle.)

(Child can chew on nipple to express drink.  If more liquid is needed, mom can squeeze on the drop-in insert for more flow.)

(For after-surgery feeding, if needed.)

(Cut the inside of the sippy spout to allow for faster flow.  The child simply bites on the sippy spout and the drink flows through.  These are great because they work for cleft-affected children (no sucking) but they are terribly messy and do wear out quickly.)

(Cut the inside of the sippy spout to allow for faster flow.  Again - the child bites on the spout and drink flows through.  They are messy, but a bit less than the Nuby No-Spills.  We use these regularly now but need to replace them every few months.)

(With the stopper removed.)

(No alterations needed - these are made to foster drinking out of regular cups.  I just love this idea and so does Sunshine - this cup is a hit!  When the child's top lip touches the center part of the cup, it pushes down and the drink is allowed to flow through the top.  Genius!)
(Take the stopper out, the drink flows through the spout.  These are great for palate repair because there is no long spout to potentially poke a hole through a newly-repaired palate.  Many surgeons require that children are drinking out of a regular cup or using a spoutless sippy for palate surgery, so these are perfect cups for that.)

(With valve removed, child only needs to tilt head back to get the drink out.  This is another great option for recovery of palate repair because there is no spout.)

(Child can bite on spout and because of a fast flow, is able to get drink out of the cup fairly easily.)

(Cut holes in the spout to make one long hole instead of 3 small ones.  Super-cheap and they work.)

(Doesn't seem to be any alterations needed - the flow of the liquid is tilted, allowing for a more natural flow.  Child can simply tilt head back but I am unsure about how much pressure is needed on the spout for it to work.)

(A flexible drinking cup - great for during/after surgeries and recoveries.)
This is most definitely not an exhaustive list, but it's a good start.  The big thing to remember is that many, many bottles and cups are alterable to work for cleft children - any alteration to stop the requirement of sucking will work!  If you are adopting and leaving soon to bring your child home, my advice is to pick several options to take with you so your child can use what works best.  If you are reading this post and have successfully used other products for your cleft child, please comment or email me with a link to the product.  I would love to include it!  This is a great way to help other cleft parents, please don't be shy!  Thank you!

Image Credits: Amazon, Target, Pediatric Medical Solutions and Philips.

(Come find me on Facebook!  And if you have been blessed by my blog, would you mind taking just a few seconds of your time and click on the 2 links below?  You don't need to do anything except click each button once (you can click once a day!).  Each click is a "vote" that allows my blog to be seen by other homeschool and adoptive families so I can help them too!  Thank you so much for blessing me with your help, may God bless your day!)

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

Monday, May 28, 2012


We had SO. MUCH. FUN. today!  I'm kind of sad that DH missed it though, because we really just had a blast together.  But he comes home tomorrow, and we are so happy to have him back!

We got out early this morning on the front side of the house (to be shielded from the sun - man it is so humid!) for some bubbles and more chalk.  I don't know if I've ever actually taken pictures of the kids blowing bubbles before and I really don't know why!  It was such a hoot!

Little Miss Sunshine was hysterical with the bubbles.  Of course she wanted to do everything herself and wasn't happy about others holding the bubbles for her, but she finally gave in.

This next shot is one of my favorites.  LOL.  She hasn't figured out how to close off the back of her mouth to blow air out of her lips.  She can, however, blow out of her nose like a champ.  So YES, she blew bubbles out of her NOSE.  LOL!  I totally cracked up when I realized how she was making those bubbles.  Priceless.

See?  Her mouth is completely closed!  Just as if she were blowing her nose!

Sunshine was happy to pop any bubble she could get her hands on, including Lovebug's and Angel's ... which didn't make Lovebug all that happy.

Fortunately he recovered every time he made new bubbles.  I lost count of how many times he asked me to take more pictures.  Every new bubble was met with utter amazement.  Oh to be a kid!

Note to self - throw away the colored bubbles.  After the spill of the purple bubbles that resulted in multiple stained pieces of clothes and shoes ... well they just have to GO!

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

First one with us

Although we celebrated Sunshine's 2nd birthday last week, today was her actual birthday.  Her first one with us.  I didn't have anything special planned for today because we already did all the fun stuff, Sunshine had no idea it was her birthday, and well, the hubs is still out of town too.  It was pretty much just an average Sunday here for us.  But I still wanted to document the day, so I decided to do a "Day In The Life" series all about Sunshine.  I missed some moments here and there, but got most everything.  I limited myself to 1 shot of each different time, that was really hard!

Morning Sunshine, love your precious bed head and your serious face.  Happy 2nd Birthday my love!

A few minutes of Mama snuggles to start the day off.

A few minutes of big sister tickles also makes the morning go well!

And some more special bonding time with big sister as she attempts to give you a non-bed head do.

Mmmmmm, breakfast.

Inspecting the beetle with big brother that mama accidentally let inside while watering the flowers.

Her new "cheese" smile while sitting at a stop light on the way to church.

Playing in the nursery at church - big sister stayed with us today too, that a was a nice treat!

On the way home from church and perfectly happy and content sans-clothes after the car throw-up disaster ... I'll just leave it at that.

A quick stop home for a wardrobe change and then out to lunch to celebrate at one of our favorites, Noodles & Co.  She's really starting to get the hang of feeding herself with a spoon!

Playing and goofing around after lunch at home, right before nap time.

Ahhh, middle-of-the-day sleep makes everyone happy, especially Sunshine!  She loves her naps!

Playing in the basement after nap to avoid the humidity.  Apparently I am not a very scary tickle monster.  LOL.

More smiles and giggles before dinner, I just love that face!

A very non-birthday-celebration-dinner of chicken nuggets, goldfish, crackers, and nutri-grain bar (again) ... I gave her whatever she asked for and that was it.  LOL.

Last bit of pretty smiles for mama before it's time for bed.  I lost track of time and didn't get her in the bath tonight, although I really meant to!

One of the best parts of the day ... snuggle and singing time with mama and her blanket as we wind down for the day in the rocking chair.

Today was a great, nothing-in-particular Sunday ... everyone got along and there was lots of tickling, giggling and smiles.  A most perfect kind of day indeed, just missing Daddy!  Happy Birthday to our Sunshine - the best birthday for you so far because we were blessed enough to be able to spend it with you.  We love you to the moon and back baby girl!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Flying solo

It's not as hard as I thought it would be.  DH has been gone since Thursday and doesn't come back until Tuesday night.  And I'm doing ok!  LOL.

This is just a yucky, noisy iPhone pic but I still love it ( me again without makeup, notice a pattern?).  I had put Sunshine to bed and was hanging out in the backyard with Angel and Lovebug.  It was so humid and hot earlier today but the evening out back was absolutely delightful with the cool breeze.  We made chalk people, listened to music and just had fun enjoying each others company.  It was a beautiful, beautiful time!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


... for this beautiful family that God allows me to love and call my own here on Earth.  My life as a wife and mama feels a little crazy on most days, but I couldn't imagine spending my time any other way.

I needed another pictures for Sunshine's post-placement report, so I literally threw this together in about 30 seconds before DH was out the door.  No makeup, no coordinating clothes ... just a perfect snapshot of us as we normally are :-)  It's nice to see us all together.  A tower of end tables made a nice tripod along with bunched up towels to get the angle I needed.  And of course I couldn't get that blasted remote to work.  Sheesh.  So I used the 10 second timer and ran, quickly, to jump in the shot.  I only cut off a few feet, not bad considering I couldn't see!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

To China, with love

The donations given in honor of Sunshine's 2nd birthday ... amazing!  I'm a little worried about how much it will cost to ship all of this ... any guesses?  LOL.  At least I know it is going to a special kiddos who will really benefit from it!

The Amazing Stanley

Ok, 2nd-to-last follow-up post to Sunshine's party ... my mom's friend, Stanley, came to visit and do a magic show for us.  To say the kids loved him is an understatement.  They had so much fun and the highlight was easily Butch, the dove.  Everyone got a chance to hold him at the end and I got lots of pictures!  But for this post, I'm keeping the sharing just to my kiddos for privacy purposes.  Sunshine wasn't quite as excited about all of the tricks as the older kids, but I'm certain she still enjoyed sitting on Grammy's lap :-)

(PS - I apologize in advance for the yucky florescent lighting!)