Heart Diseases

Caring for Children With Congenital Heart Disease: Breastfeeding, Diet, Exercise, Daily Precautions

According to statistics, for every 1,000 live births, about 6 to 10 babies suffer from congenital heart disease, including common congenital heart diseases such as ventricular septal defect and Quad syndrome of Fallot. How to take care of babies and children with congenital heart disease? This article will introduce you one by one.

6 things to know about breastfeeding for children with congenital heart disease

1: Selection of pacifier

There are many types of nipples at the mouth of the bottle. Due to the poor sucking ability of babies with congenital heart disease, if the opening of the nipple is too small, the baby may not be able to suck milk. Instead, the baby will suck in a lot of air, increasing the chance of vomiting. It is recommended that parents choose a pacifier with a larger opening and a round shape.

2: Feed with small amounts and frequent meals

Babies with congenital heart disease are more likely to feel tired when drinking milk. Small meals with frequent meals can ensure that the baby drinks enough milk. In addition, if the baby drinks too much milk at one time, it is easy for the stomach to press on the chest and cause discomfort.

Assuming that the original feeding interval is 60c.c. every four hours, it can be changed to 45c.c. every three hours. In addition, the baby should take timely rest when drinking milk. Do not drink it all at once, as it may cause choking or excessive bloating.

3:Pay attention to your baby’s condition at all times

If you notice that your baby is cyanotic (skin turns blue or purple) or appears to be short of breath while breastfeeding, you should stop breastfeeding immediately.


4: The feeder should feed in a semi-sitting or lying position.

Half-sitting refers to half-lying and half-sitting, with the body in a 45-degree position. Mothers can put pillows or pillows behind their backs to help support their bodies. When holding the baby for breastfeeding, the baby should be in the knee-chest position, lying on the mother’s chest, which can make it easier for the baby to drink milk and less likely to tire.

5: Need help with exhaust after feeding

After the baby has finished drinking milk, the feeder remembers to pat the baby’s back to help exhaust gas, and let the baby lie on the right side to help digestion, and at the same time observe whether the baby has milk overflow.

6: How to deal with spitting up milk

Turn the baby’s head to the side, then pat the baby’s back so that all the milk remaining in the mouth can flow out to avoid choking and causing aspiration pneumonia. Finally, clean the baby’s mouth.

Dietary instructions for children with congenital heart disease

Children with heart disease are no different from other children and need a balanced intake of various foods. However, children with congenital heart disease have more laborious breathing and get tired easily, which affects their appetite and leads to insufficient nutritional intake.

Parents can observe their children’s eating preferences and add appropriate amounts of favorite foods to meals to increase their children’s willingness to eat. In addition, high-protein and high-calorie foods can also be added to supplement the growth needs of sick children.

Special attention should be paid to the fact that if a child has symptoms of edema or heart failure, the diet should be changed to low-salt or no-salt and the water intake should be reduced.

If your child is taking heart disease medications such as Digoxin, you can supplement with foods rich in potassium, such as spinach, water spinach, bananas, citrus (except grapefruit), orange juice, yams, and sweet potatoes.

Generally, when receiving treatment, the doctor will give relevant precautions, so parents do not need to worry too much.

Exercise principles for children with congenital heart disease

Many parents will limit or prevent their children from exercising because they are worried about their children with heart disease. This has the opposite effect. Both ordinary people and children with heart disease need to enjoy the benefits of exercise.

Children with more severe heart disease still need to follow the doctor’s advice and strictly limit the amount of exercise; while those with mild symptoms can engage in light activities such as ordinary games or playing, as long as they do not suffer from symptoms such as asthma, cyanosis or abnormal fatigue during or after exercise. no problem. In addition, if you find that your child suddenly squats down or pauses in the middle of an activity and appears uncomfortable, please rest immediately and observe whether the situation improves. Otherwise, you should send him to the doctor as soon as possible.

However, overly strenuous activities such as running and playing basketball may not be suitable for children who have not undergone surgery or are under medical treatment. It is recommended that parents still discuss with their doctor before deciding on the exercise policy for their sick child.

4 things to note about congenital heart disease

1.Prevent constipation

Constipation requires special exertion, and for children with heart disease, this exertion can also increase the pressure on the heart. Therefore, children should usually be encouraged to absorb sufficient fiber from fruits and vegetables, and use abdominal breathing, abdominal massage and other methods to promote intestinal peristalsis and achieve daily defecation.

2.Prevent endocarditis

Children with some special heart diseases are prone to endocarditis. To ensure that they are protected from infection, please consult with congenital health care providers in advance before undergoing dental care (tooth extraction, etc.), gastrointestinal or genitourinary tract surgery and other examinations and any surgery. The cardiologist may inform the surgeon whether the child with congenital heart disease needs to take preventive antibiotics first to avoid infection during treatment.

In addition to some congenital heart defects that easily allow bacteria to adhere to heart tissue, endocarditis infection in children with heart disease can worsen the already weak heart function and cause other serious complications, so it should not be taken carelessly.

3.Prevent colds and avoid infections

The resistance of children with congenital heart disease is generally weak, so special attention should be paid to even a common cold to avoid serious infection. In daily life, you should stay away from sources of infection, such as avoiding contact with people with colds, keeping the environment clean, wearing masks, etc. Especially since the COVID-19 epidemic has not yet been eliminated, the two basic protections of washing hands frequently and wearing masks must be done well.

If a fever occurs, you should first help the child cool down and observe his physical condition, because fever will increase the heart load of the sick child and make him prone to hypoxia. If there is no improvement, he must seek medical attention immediately.

4.Beware of cyanosis caused by crying

Crying is common for babies or children, but children with congenital heart disease may develop cyanosis if they cry excessively, for too long or too hard. Therefore, calm the child’s emotions and avoid aggravation of cyanosis symptoms.

These conditions require immediate medical attention


When parents find that their children have the following symptoms, please seek medical attention immediately:

  1. Difficulty breathing, rapid breathing
  2. Cyanosis does not improve or symptoms worsen
  3. High fever that persists
  4. Decreased mobility and unusual fatigue
  5. Edema in the lower limbs, orbits, and anterior fontanelle
  6. Significant decrease in urine output
  7. Heartbeat suddenly slows or increases



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