6 Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Nursing Care Plans


Cleft lip and cleft palate is a defect caused by the failure of the soft and bony tissue to fuse in utero. These may occur singly or together and often occur with other congenital anomalies such as spina bifida, hydrocephalus, or cardiac defects. Cleft lip deformities can occur unilaterally, bilaterally or rarely, in the midline. Treatment consists of surgical repair, usually of the lip first between 6 to 10 weeks of age, followed by the palate between 12 to 18 months of age. The surgical procedures are dependent on the condition of the child and physician preference. Management involves a multidisciplinary approach that includes the surgeon, pediatrician, nurse, orthodontist, prosthodontist, otolaryngologist, and speech therapist.

Nursing Care Plans

Nursing goals for clients with cleft lip and cleft palate include maintaining adequate nutrition, increasing family coping, reducing the parents’ anxiety and guilt regarding the newborn‘s physical defects, and preparing parents for the future repair of the cleft lip and palate.

Here are six (6) nursing diagnosis and nursing care plans (NCP) for cleft lip and cleft palate:

  1. Ineffective Airway Clearance
  2. Imbalanced Nutrition: Less than Body Requirements
  3. Anxiety
  4. Deficient Knowledge
  5. Compromised Family Coping
  6. Risk for Injury

Ineffective Airway Clearance

Nursing Diagnosis


May be related to

Possibly evidenced by

  • Abnormal breath sounds
  • Cyanosis
  • Dyspnea
  • Postoperative edema
  • Productive/non-productive cough
  • Respiratory rate and depth changes
  • Tachypnea

Desired Outcomes

  • Infant will maintain a clear airway as evidenced by clear breath sounds, respiratory rate of 20 to 30 breaths per minute, absence of cyanosis, and respiratory distress.
Nursing InterventionsRationale
Assess the infant’s respiratory rate, depth, and effort.Aspiration of secretions or milk may cause tachypnea.
Assess skin color and capillary refill.Bluish discoloration of the skin or prolonged capillary filling happens because of the decreased oxygenation produced by the defect.
Assess for abdominal distention.The infant may swallow excess air during bottle feeding causing abdominal distention that may result in upward pressure on the diaphragm and lungs hence compromising respiration.
Place the infant in an infant seat at a 30° to 45°.This position prevents the infant’s tongue from falling back and obstructing the airway.
Position the infant in an upright position during feeding and elevate the head of the crib 30° after.Such position prevents aspiration of milk.
Provide oral and nasal suctioning as needed.The purpose of suctioning is to maintain a patent airway and improve oxygenation by removing excess fluids and secretions in the oral and nasal cavity.
Feed the infant slowly and burp frequently.Burping frequently during a feeding will reduce spitting up and prevent excessive swallowing of air.
Provide special nipples or feeding devices such as pigeon feeder with a one-way valve.Feeding may work better using special bottles or nipples with a wider base.

Recommended Resources

Recommended nursing diagnosis and nursing care plan books and resources.

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See also

Other recommended site resources for this nursing care plan:

Other nursing care plans for pediatric conditions and diseases:

Paul Martin is a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing since 2007. Having worked as a medical-surgical nurse for five years, he handled different kinds of patients and learned how to provide individualized care to them. Now, his experiences working in the hospital is carried over to his writings to help aspiring students achieve their goals. He is currently working as a nursing instructor and have a particular interest in nursing management, emergency care, critical care, infection control, and public health. As a writer at Nurseslabs, his goal is to impart his clinical knowledge and skills to students and nurses helping them become the best version of themselves and ultimately make an impact in uplifting the nursing profession.