Feeding for infants with congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is one of the most common birth problems in infants, found in 9 out of every 1,000 babies born. Some heart problems are serious needing two or more operations, which can be months apart.

Weight gain can be poor in some babies with CHD, especially in some of the more the severe heart problems. For lots of different reasons feeding problems are common in many babies with CHD and as a result some of these babies do not gain weight well.

At Southampton, we have shown babies with CHD who do not gain weight well before their operation have a longer stay in hospital and problems after surgery. Sometimes their operation has to be delayed until they have gained more weight making parents worry.

Most babies with heart problems should see a dietitian who is able to help with individual feeding advice, which will best help babies gain weight. Dietitians are also able to help parents with practical information as how to overcome feeding problems.

Working with the cardiac team, we have developed and tested a service which aims to better support parents at home.


Through our nutrition support monitoring programme, we know which babies are more likely to need extra nutrition support, and for those families are able to provide regular individual advice for each baby and information about how best to help support weight gain and overcome feeding problems.

As a result of this research, we have published a number of scientific articles. We also worked with families to develop parent information and recipe books. 

You can download the recipe booklets below. 

Breastfeeding while your baby is in hospital

Southampton Children’s Hospital is a ‘breastfeeding-friendly’ hospital and is working towards accreditation with the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative. This means you are welcome to breastfeed and express anywhere in the hospital. We have written a guide to breastfeeding while your baby is in hospital.

Maintaining a healthy weight

We know that feeding problems are common in young children as a result we work closely with dietitians and speech and language therapist, to work with families to help children overcome difficulties.

As children get older it is important for them to eat healthily as well as participating in regular physical activity. We are developing a service which will help to support young people to get active as well as maintaining a healthy weight.

Downloadable recipe books

Click on the links below to download the recipe books  as well as further dietary advice from Dr Luise Marino.

Parent information

Information on feeding for infants with congenital heart disease.

Recipe book for babies

For babies who need to get the most out of every mouthful.

Recipe book for toddlers

For toddlers who need to make the most of every mouthful.

Recipe book for young people

For young people who need to make the most of every mouthful.