CLEFT HELPLINE – 1800 103 8301

Feeding & Nutrition

The first, and often most important, step in the cleft care journey is ensuring the child is able to eat and drink.

feeding with cleft

Feeding & Nutrition Programs

Babies with clefts are uniquely vulnerable to malnutrition, even when food supply is abundant. This is because they are often unable to suck, which makes it very difficult to feed. Without support, many babies with clefts will face irreversible harm or even die from malnutrition.

Smile Train knows that achieving our vision of a world where every person with a cleft is able to live a full and healthy life requires inclusive nutrition programs that support cleft-affected mothers and babies from birth through adulthood.

Our nutrition programs cover the costs of keeping on-staff feeding and nutrition specialists on cleft teams, ensuring that every family arriving for care is guided properly. The programs also support purchasing vital feeding and nutrition supplies such as nutrition supplements and feeding tools and travel expenses so the most vulnerable patients can receive regular care until they are healthy enough for surgery.

Our Five-Year Commitment

On September 22, 2021 Smile Train officially announced our five-year commitment to scaling our investment in global nutrition. By the end of 2026, through awareness campaigns, advocacy, program expansion, partnerships, training, and education of health workers, Smile Train’s increased investment in nutrition will result in:

  1. More than one million mothers and children benefiting from cleft-specific feeding counseling 
  2. More than 55,000 child malnutrition cases averted 
  3. 40,000+ educational opportunities on cleft feeding and nutrition 
  4. More than 1,000 partner hospitals across 70+ countries empowered to offer nutrition services to every mother and child pair affected by cleft 
  5. An organized network of more than 250 partner hospitals offering advanced nutritional care for malnourished children with clefts 
  6. A 40% reduction of the number of stunted children undergoing cleft surgery 

Nurturing babies in need, protecting the health of communities, and securing the future of children around the world can’t wait. Find more information around cleft nutrition below.

Interested in joining us in our commitment? Email:

Smile Train Feeding Video Cover

Resources for Families

We have many documents to help you understand the nuances of nutrition and its importance and how you can feed your child.

Please see Smile Train’s Feeding Videos and Handouts available here:

For access to more information please email

Feeding Video

English Hindi Bangla Tamil

Feeding & Nutrition Workshop

Smile Train partnered with the global nutrition organization SPOON to develop a multi-day workshop called “Supporting Comprehensive Cleft Care Through Nutrition and Feeding” to train nurses, community health workers, and others on effective cleft feeding and nutrition strategies. Topics range from breastfeeding, safe bottle/cup/spoon-feeding techniques, and weaning to monitoring healthy growth and addressing malnutrition. See our Training Programs – Cleft Team Documents for more information.