For babies unable to suck from standard bottles and teats, there are a number of options available. As each baby and their needs will differ, it is vital that you speak to your Cleft Nurse Specialist before purchasing or using any specialist feeding equipment.
While CLAPA does supply specialist bottles and teats, our staff are not medically trained and cannot give advice as to which items would be suitable for your baby.
CLAPA provides one free ‘Welcome Pack’ of bottles, teats and information for new parents in the UK. The Specialist Cleft Nurses will tell families about this service after meeting with them and assessing their baby’s feeding needs. They will advise families which bottles and teats they need. CLAPA Staff cannot give feeding advice or recommend particular bottles and teats.
Welcome Packs contain:
- Special bottles and teats – either two MAM 8oz soft bottles and two MAM teats OR two Dr Brown’s 4oz bottles and four Dr Brown’s teats
- Medical information on caring for and feeding a baby with a cleft
- Copy of CLAPA News, our annual magazine
- ‘Join the CLAPA Community’ leaflet
- ‘One in 700’ leaflet about CLAPA and cleft
- ‘Callie and her Cleft’ picture book about cleft lip and palate (please let us know if you’d like this included)
- Feeding equipment catalogue
- Information from the Family Fund and the Cleft Collective
- Relevant leaflets or postcards about upcoming CLAPA events such as Awareness Week
We need to know what kind of bottles and teats you need, your name, address and phone number. You can order extra bottles and teats at the same time and the postage will be free, but you will need a bank card to pay for the extra items. Prices can be found on our online shop.
Please note, we can only supply one Welcome Pack per baby. If you are having serious issues paying for further feeding equipment, you can ask your Cleft Nurse Specialist to contact us on your behalf and we will send free-of-charge items at our discretion.
Due to our limited funding, we cannot supply free samples (e.g. to Health Visitors, students, etc). If you would like a pack for demonstration purposes, we ask that you make a donation of £20 to help us cover our costs.
MAM Bottles and Teats
CLAPA is the only UK supplier of MAM’s range of specialist cleft feeding equipment, including their soft bottles and orthodontic teats. The soft bottles can be gently squeezed to help the milk flow regardless of the baby’s ability to suck.
Before using this bottle, parents and carers should be instructed in its safe use by a trained feeding specialist. This will reduce the risk of the baby aspirating or choking during feeds.
MAM teats have a small dimple in the side which may or may not have a slit in it. This is what is meant by the teats being either vented or non-vented. The slit helps to eliminate extra air.
Vented teats are either newborn or all ages sized. This isn’t necessarily to do with the age of your child, so it’s best to go with what the Cleft Nurse Specialist recommends.
MAM Soft Bottles have a standard-sized neck which can be used with most teats.
They are BPA-free and comply with all international regulations and standards for baby feeding equipment.
They can be cleaned/sterilised by any normal method used in the home, including:
- All common dishwashing liquids
- Dishwasher (top rack only) 95 degrees C. It may discolour if strong food colourings are also in the washer.
- Domestic steam or microwave steriliser, 100 degrees C MAX
- Boiling water for 5-10 minutes
- Cold water sterilisation (e.g. Milton fluid) – this is the recommended method as it may help your bottles to last longer.
MAM teats come in three varieties: Non-Vented All Ages, Vented Newborn, and Vented All Ages. These teats are all considered ‘medium flow’. All teats have a small ‘dimple’ in the side, and in Vented teats there is a small slit in this dimple to help with the elimination of extra air during feeding. If you’re using vented teats, make sure to keep the vent on the top as these teats will badly leak otherwise. The difference between newborn and all ages sizes can be seen above.
MAM Teats are made of soft latex and will naturally swell up with use, as seen in the image below. They should be replaced at least every 4-6 weeks.
Using them for longer than this can lead to problems. Your baby may become used to the swollen size of the teats and find it difficult to use new teats, as they are not available in larger sizes. It can also be dangerous, as small tears will start to form in the delicate latex and make these teats harder to properly sterilise.
MAM recommends cold water sterilisation be used (e.g. Milton fluid, which is widely available) as this can help the teats to retain their shape for longer.
Direct sunlight or edible fats make latex age and become porous more quickly. When a latex teat becomes sticky, it is a natural sign that it should be replaced with a new one, usually after 1-2 months.
The Dr. Brown’s Specialty Feeding System was designed together with health professionals to help babies with feeding issues like those that often occur with a cleft lip and/or palate.
The system uses a special valve which babies can ‘work at’ with their tongues like they would when breastfeeding or using a regular bottle, but they don’t have to suck to get the milk to flow. This means that the person feeding the baby doesn’t have to squeeze the bottles, so they need much less training than with MAM bottles.
With this system, the baby is ‘feeding themselves’ as they control the flow of milk, so it teaches babies to self-regulate.
This system doesn’t work for everyone, however, so please do check with your Cleft Nurse Specialist before ordering.
Note: If the markings on the side of your bottles are coming off, please contact our suppliers, Central Medical Supplies (CMS), directly on 0153 839 9541
Note: Bottles should not be handled/ scrubbed (outside surface) or wiped with a cloth until they have fully cooled down (if using steam or microwave to sterilize) as it will lead to the ink coming off the bottles.
We are currently only able to get our stock of Dr Browns products through a third party at a significant cost. Because of how the bottle packs are packaged, we can’t control or alter their contents, we can only sell them as-is. We know this isn’t ideal for some parents, particularly those who use larger teats and need to buy these separately, and for this we sincerely apologise. Large bottle packs were originally supplied to us with Level 3 & 4 teats, but this has since changed, a decision that was beyond our control.
At present, the sealed bottle packs are the only financially viable way for CLAPA to supply Dr Browns products to parents in the UK, as the cost of stocking individual bottles is too high. We hope this will change in the future so we can provide parents with a more flexible service that suits their needs.
Alternative Soft Bottles
There are a number of alternative soft bottles available on the internet or high street. Brands include Vital and Nuby bottles. However, these are not designed specifically for babies with a cleft, so parents should always consult with their Cleft Nurse Specialists before purchasing or using any of these.
Some parents prefer these to the MAM bottles as they may be softer and easier to squeeze. While this can be a relief to parents struggling to keep squeezing the MAM bottles, it can also be dangerous, as too much milk squeezed into the baby’s mouth can cause them to choke, or ‘aspirate’. This is why it’s vital that parents are properly trained and follow all advice from their Cleft Nurse Specialist.
NUK teats are very large, flat-headed teats which have been specially designed for babies with a cleft palate. However, the size and shape of the teat can make it dangerous to use for parents who have not been trained to use them, so again they should only be used if the Cleft Nurse Specialist has advised this.
The Haberman Feeder is a specialised bottle that was designed by a mother of a child that was born with Pierre Robin. It is designed to help any baby that has a weak sucking reflex. It is much more expensive than other bottles but has been very successful for some babies.
These should be purchased directly from Athrodax Healthcare.
UK parents can get a reduced rate for this bottle as they can claim back the VAT. This exemption is because ‘your baby has a feeding difficulty’ and therefore this type of bottle has zero tax. On receipt of an order form, cheque and VAT form, Athrodax aim to send your order by return post. Credit card orders can be taken but they will be subject to VAT.
We hold a small emergency stock of complete Haberman bottles but we do not stock the replacement valves and teats, these will have to be purchased from Athrodax Healthcare at:
Athrodax Healthcare International Ltd
Hawthorne Business Park
Tel: 01594 544440
Published: November 2015
Last Updated: January 2018
Next Review: January 2020
Source(s): Manufacturer’s websites.
If you have a comment or question about the information in this page, or would like to know more about the sources of this information, please contact Communications & Information Manager Anna Martindale at [email protected] or 020 7833 4883.