Caring for Your Child after Cleft Palate Repair
What is a Cleft Palate Repair?
A cleft palate repair is done to close the
opening in the roof of the mouth so that your
child is able to eat and speak better. The
tissue is brought together and stitched to
close the opening.
What to Expect
ξ An IV (intravenous line) will provide
fluids for your child for the first day or
two after surgery, since she will not
drink as much as usual.
ξ Stitches on the roof of the mouth will
ξ The nurses may gently suction secretions
from the mouth as needed.
ξ A sore throat may last for a few days.
Your child may also complain of
soreness and pain on the roof of her
mouth. Pain medicine will be given to
ξ Soft arm restraints will need to be worn
for a couple of weeks. They will prevent
your child from rubbing the stitches.
The restraints can be removed for short
periods of time, but only when an adult
is watching your child. Exercise your
child’s arms when restraints are off so
that they don’t become stiff. The
restraints should be taken off at least
every 4 hours unless the child is sleeping
through the night. The restraints are
very soft. Most of the time children do
not mind wearing them. Any extra
irritation to the site can make healing
take longer. Touching the site may
ξ Your child will stay in the hospital for 1-
ξ It is best if your child does not use a
pacifier until healing is complete.
There is some pain during the first few days.
Your doctor will order medicine to keep
your child comfortable. Pain medicine
should be given every 4 hours for the first
day or two. You will be given a prescription
for pain medicine to use at home. It may
help to give it ½ hour before feedings to
ease pain with eating. You should not give
your child ibuprofen (Advil , Motrin ) until
1 week after the surgery. It is okay to give
Tylenol the week after surgery, if you are
not using the prescription pain medicine.
Be sure your child gets plenty of rest the day
before surgery. Plan quiet activities for the
first few days. Children heal quickly but
will need a few days of rest to get better.
ξ After eating, rinse your child’s mouth
out with water to wash away leftover
food. It will also help to prevent a bad
taste in the mouth and bad breath.
ξ Teeth may be cleaned on the outside of
the gums using moistened gauze square.
A toothbrush is not to be used until
okayed by your doctor.
ξ Do not use mouthwash unless it is
diluted one to one with water.
Mouthwash may sting.
Your child will be able to lie in a crib or in a
parent’s arms. It is best to keep the head up,
propped in a sitting position when eating.
Your child may have trouble blowing her
nose for a while. You may also notice an
increase in drooling.
Sometimes a small amount of bleeding may
occur about 2 weeks after the surgery. This
can happen when small pieces of old tissue
come off the healing palate. If this happens,
give your child something cold to drink. If
able, rinse the mouth with water. Do NOT
try to pull off or remove any of this tissue
Comfort and Support
You are your child’s most important
security. It is common for children to
regress (go back to younger type behaviors)
after being in the hospital. If your child was
outgoing, she may now be shy. If your child
was potty-trained, accidents may occur.
This is normal. Be patient. This should go
Your child will begin with a liquid diet
while in the hospital. This includes water,
juices, and jello. If your child needs bottle
feedings, you may use the nipple you used
before the surgery. At home, your child
should eat only soft foods. Toddlers and
preschool children should not feed
themselves with a spoon until the doctor
says it is okay. They may feed themselves
soft finger food (cooked pasta) with an adult
watching. Do not give your child crunchy
cereal or foods, spoons, straws, or sticks for
about 2 weeks.
Foods Allowed Foods to Avoid
Milk All milk and milk drinks, mild
soups, soft pudding and custard.
Plain ice cream
Milk products with nuts or
Meat Pureed meats and meat soups. Soft
Whole pieces of meat. Peanut
All fruits and vegetable juices. All
pureed fruits or vegetables. Mash
vegetables with added liquid
Fruits and vegetables that are
not pureed. Thick gummy
Breads & Cereals Any thinned cooked cereal.
Macaroni and cooked noodles
Breads and crackers. Thick
gummy cooked cereal and dry
Fats Butter and oils
Miscellaneous Gelatin desserts and plain sherbets
or plain yogurt
Gum and lollipops, hard or
Seasonings Sugar and small amounts of salt Other spices
Your child should stay on this soft diet until
the follow up visit with the doctor. Your
doctor will let you know at this time if your
child needs to stay on a soft diet.
Your child may have her first follow up visit
with the doctor in about 5-7 days. The
second visit should be in about 2 weeks.
When to Call the Doctor or Clinic Nurse
ξ Bleeding from the mouth
ξ Temperature over 100 θ F when taken
under the arm, 101 θ F when taken in the
ear, or over 102 θ F when taken rectally
ξ Your child will not take in any liquids
ξ Vomiting that doesn’t stop
ξ Pain not controlled by medicine
AFCH Pediatric Specialty Clinic, weekdays
8:00 am to 5:00 pm:(608)263-6420 option 4
After hours, nights, weekends and holidays,
the clinic number is answered by the paging
operator. Ask for the Plastic Surgery
resident on call. Leave your name and
phone number with the area code. The
doctor will call you back.
If you live outside the Madison area, call
Your doctor’s name: _________________
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 11/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4782