gifts for a new baby
January 20, 2010 4:34 PM   Subscribe

A friend of mine is due to give birth in March to a baby with a cleft lip. Is there anything I can buy and/or do for her or the baby that would be especially helpful?

I just had a baby myself, so I can think of plenty of things that most new moms would appreciate, but I know very little about cleft lips/palettes. I'm wondering if there's anything that would be particularly useful in her situation that I don't know about and that would make the first few months easier?
posted by logic vs love to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
You might put her in touch with the Grottoes of North America's Humanitarian Foundation and/or her nearest Shriners Hospital for Children - the Shriners and the Grottoes have a joint program for treating children with cleft lip and/or palate. (Completely free of charge.)

From a PDF linked on the Grotto site:
For more information, please con-
tact Jane Valentine, corporate direc-
tor of nursing at Shriners Hospitals
for Children, at (813) 281-7171 or, or Dianna
Bristle, administrative director of the
Grottoe’s Humanitarian Foundation,
at (614) 933-0711 or dianna.bristle@
posted by usonian at 5:11 PM on January 20, 2010

I think cleft lip babies often have trouble nursing/using a bottle since they don't have good suction. Each case is obviously different and I'm sure the hospital will provide something similar but I know lots of babies in this situation need special bottles. I imagine there are pacifier issues too.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 5:27 PM on January 20, 2010

I was going to mention some of what otherworldlyglow mentioned, so I will just add to it instead.

If the baby's issues aren't conducive to breastfeeding, help her figure out what she needs to do to rent a hospital grade pump, or better yet, get you and some friends together to buy her one because if she has to pump to get her baby breastmilk, a hospital grade pump will go a much longer way than a standard double pump like the Medela Pump-in-Style. Many insurance companies will cover a rental, but only up to three months.

You'll want to look at a Medela Symphony or a Hygeia EnDeare for some examples. They can run up to $1000 for purchase, but would be well worth the cost if it looks like she'll need to exclusively pump.

Otherwise, I'd offer to be her receptionist, especially if the baby will be having surgery early on. Ask her if you can field calls for her regarding that, and then do it.

Beyond that, I'd say anything you'd do for any friend you know having a baby is a plus. Meals in the freezer? Laundry done? Can you stop by and clean her kitchen and bathroom?
posted by zizzle at 5:46 PM on January 20, 2010

Also see and for some extra pointers.
posted by mark7570 at 7:12 PM on January 20, 2010

If she does need to pump exclusively, she will find the yahoo group Pump Moms absolutely invaluable. Exclusively pumping is hard work, and it can be difficult to get good information, even from some lactation consultants or LLL leaders (not all, but some). I had to pump exclusively for the first 2 months of #1's life and I wish I had known about Pump Moms then. Its basically a mutual support group for moms who pump at work or exclusively pump, and there are several cleft-palette moms on the group. It is also easily the most useful resource I have come across during my time breastfeeding and pumping. Highly recommended!
posted by Joh at 10:11 PM on January 20, 2010

Great suggestions here -- I'd also add that one of things your friend will most appreciate is the fact that you'll stick around and spend time with her and her baby once she's born. A friend's family member gave birth to a baby with a cleft lip and it was appalling to see everyone in her life vanish because they felt awkward about it and weren't sure what to say when they saw the baby, since "S/he's so cute!" didn't seem like an option. Your friend will be in love with her baby no matter what, and she's going to need a friend who isn't freaked out by the baby's appearance and knows that this is an easily reparable birth defect.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 4:07 AM on January 21, 2010

...stick around and spend time with her and her baby once she's born...

In addition to all the other good advice in this thread I would like to expand on foxy_hedgehog's suggestion and say that these are generally repaired at a young age; depending on the extent of surgery it might be a straightforward outpatient procedure or might require multiple surgeries with some time in the hospital afterward. So offer to help with all of the disruption involved in that: watch the house/pets/other kids while they are gone, go to the store or run any other errands they need, basically take care of all the little day-to-day tasks everyone has so she and any other family can be free to concentrate on being at the hospital with the baby.
posted by TedW at 5:39 AM on January 21, 2010

Buy her cute gifts or maybe useful things from her registry, offer to help clean her house and make meals, and most importantly try not to disappear into the woodwork after the first couple of weeks. Basically do the same things you would for any other friend who was having a baby.

I would steer clear of advice involving breastfeeding or breast pumps and just support any decision she makes as many physical/emotional factors are at play here. If her doctors already know that her baby has a cleft palate, she has probably already received counseling about feeding and nutrition since that is one of the complications with this condition and the baby's weight and general health will be closely monitored in the days and weeks after birth. Speaking as a pregnant woman, I'm constantly shocked at how many people feel compelled to, unprompted, lecture me on the benefits of breastfeeding. Sometimes it just doesn't work out and the last thing you want to do is make her feel like she is being judged or that she has already failed as a mother.
posted by defreckled at 6:27 AM on January 21, 2010

« Older How can I stop my sister's dog from enabling my...   |   Ways to dress up fruit. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.