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UC Davis Children’s Hospital

UC Davis Children’s Hospital

Cleft and Craniofacial Reconstruction – Postsurgical nutrition

After your child's surgery, there are some important steps you can take that will promote healing and your child's continued growth:

Oral hygiene – rinse your child’s mouth with water after meals

Good nutrition – plan and provide a properly balanced nutritional diet for you child

Good nutrition in liquid form

On the day of surgery, your child may not be given any nutrients by mouth. During the first few days after surgery, the diet may consist of clear liquids such as juices and broth. Later on, milk can be added to the diet. A full liquid diet, which is more nutritious, will begin when the physician decides your child is ready. Each child is different and will progress through the diets at a different rate.

  • Children may drink from a cup, taking very small sips.
  • Frequent feedings (three meals and three snacks daily) will yield adequate calories and protein.
  • Give your child a liquid vitamin supplement every day.
  • Adolescents should be given an iron supplement as well.

By selecting foods from the groups listed below and modifying them so they pour easily from a cup, you can give your child a nutritionally adequate diet. Incorporate dairy products, soups and juices when blending food, and be sure to cook meats before liquefying. Carefully remove any fibrous substances, connective tissue or gristle from foods.

Dietary guidelines

The following guidelines provide good nutrition for children 1–5 years of age. Serving sizes and the total number of servings for each age group are listed. Your child’s age will influence food intake and preferences. Strict adherence to the food groups is not necessary. A “dental liquid diet” is appropriate for children older than 5 years. A registered dietician is available to answer questions about your child’s nutrition.


Age and (serving size): 1 year (1/4–1/2 cup), 2–3 years (1/2–3/4 cup), more than 5 years (3/4 cup)

  • Foods to serve: milk (all types), milk shakes, breakfast drinks, cocoa, eggnog, malted milk, blended yogurt and custard or pudding thinned with milk
  • Restricted foods: yogurt with seeds or nuts

 Vegetables (2 servings)

Age and (serving size): 1 year (1–2 tablespoons), 2–3 years (3–4 tablespoons), more than 5 years (4–5 tablespoons)

  • Foods to serve: well-cooked vegetables pureed with milk, vegetable juice, broth or cream to a liquid consistency
  • Restricted foods: vegetables with seeds or tough skins (unless removed), fibrous tissue such as broccoli stem

 Breads and starches (4 servings)

Age and (serving size): 1 year (1/4 cup), 2–3 years (1/3 cup), more than 5 years (1/2 cup)

  • Foods to serve: blended whipped potatoes, strained cereals, pureed pasta (thinned with tomato sauce or milk)
  • Restricted foods: all others

 Fruit (2 servings)

Age and (serving size): 1 year (2–4 tablespoons), 2–3 years (4 tablespoons), more than 5 years (1/2 cup)

  • Foods to serve: Pureed fruits (thinned with fruit juice, ginger ale, milk or cream), strained fruit juices with pulp removed
  • Restricted foods: all others.

 Meat (4 servings)

Age and (serving size): 1 year (1 ounce), 2–3 years (1 1/2 ounces), more than 5 years (2 ounces)

  • Foods to serve: baby meats (thinned with broth, milk or cream sauce)
  • Restricted foods: connective tissue and gristle must be removed from meats


  • Foods to serve: broth, strained cream soups or any pureed soups
  • Restricted foods: all others.


  • Foods to serve: salt, flavor extracts, spices in moderation (as tolerated)
  • Restricted foods: pepper

 Fat (3 teaspoons) 

  • Foods to serve: margarine, oil or mayonnaise