A cleft lip or cleft palate occurs when either the upper lip doesn’t close properly or the palates inside your baby’s mouth don’t bond correctly during your baby’s gestation period. Speech impediments and feeding problems can occur depending on the severity of the cleft. Many parents opt for cleft surgery after birth and in turn the child does not experience impediments, however if the cleft is not visible you may not see signs of a problem until later on.
A palate cleft can make feeding difficult because there could be a clear opening between the nose and mouth, which means milk could end up in the wrong place. Through therapy you can relearn how to feed your baby so that doesn’t happen, a very common mistake is allowing a child to lay flat on his back when drinking the milk – this should never happen, cleft palate or not.
As your child begins down the road to speech you may notice something curious about the tone of her voice. She may speak in a nasal tone which is one of the indications of a cleft palate. She may begin to develop incorrect ways of breathing and placing her tongue when making sounds due to the cleft. Speech-language therapy helps in correcting speech issues related to cleft lip and palate through teaching her how to correctly formulate sounds and breathe while doing so.