You'll find hundreds of files on cleft lip, cleft palate here on

This one is about: Making a More "User Friendly" Restraint Jacket

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by Joanne Green

"Everybody thought she had broken both her arms!" This is a common complaint among parents who take their children out in public while still wearing arm restraints.

Arm restraints are a necessary part of aftercare following lip or palate surgery for young children. They protect the healing suture line. While some doctors allow them to be removed after about a week (with CLOSE parental supervision, of course!), many doctors prefer that they be worn around the clock for at least two full weeks.

But shortly after surgery your little one will be feeling herself again and want to get back to her regular activities - including accompanying you out into public places. The problem? Those arm restraints will attract more stares and comments than the cleft ever did. The solution? For many parents it has been to keep the child in the house until the restraints come off. Another solution may be to make "cuter" restraints.

The pattern/instructions here is for a jacket-type arm restraint, similar in concept to the POSEY jacket available in many hospitals. The difference here is that it can be made just a little cuter, and it can be made of soft, cotton material, which should also be quite a bit more comfortable. This light-weight jacket will close in the back with velcro. The long-sleeved arms will contain 6 long "pockets" that will hold tongue depressors to stiffen then (Note: Use tongue depressors and not craft, or ice-cream sticks. Even a newborn will need to use the larger and stronger tongue depressors.) The jackets are very simple to make, so that you could make a few, allowing for clean changes as often as needed. BEFORE YOU USE THESE JACKETS, BE SURE TO ASK YOUR DOCTOR IF THEY WILL BE APPROPRIATE FOR YOUR CHILD.

Choose a bright, cotton material (cotton "breathes" and is therefore more comfortable). You will need about 1 1/2 yards. You will also need some binding tape in a good contrasting color, velcro for the closure, and a package of tongue depressors. Use a good-fitting t-shirt as a guide to draw your pattern. Fold the t-shirt in half lengthwise. Lay it on newspaper and draw around the bodice, leaving 1/2" all around for seams. When drawing the back of the jacket pattern, extend the back portion out a few inches to allow for overlap and a velcro fastener. Follow the guide on the diagram for the sleeves*.

*Note: This article was originally printed with a diagram. Read the note at the bottom of this page.

Be sure you cut them the length from your child's shoulder to the wrist, plus 6 1/2 inches to accommodate the long pockets for the tongue depressors. (As an alternative, the pocket piece may be cut separately and sewn onto the sleeve so that the upturned pocket and the sleeve will both show right side out on the finished jacket.) Cut the front of the jacket out along the fold of the material. Sew the front and back together along the shoulder seams. Fit the sleeves around the shoulder and sew. Hem or bind the edge of the sleeve and turn up about 6-1/2" (or attach pocket piece and turn up). Sew along the length of the upturned portion, five long pockets from the hem to the fold. Turn the jacket wrong-side-out and sew the jacket together along the sleeve and side seams. Finish all the edges with binding tape. Add the velcro closure to the back so that the jacket fits snug but not tight.

In the end, your jacket should fit just to the wrist, exposing your child's whole hand. With the tongue depressors in place, your child will not be able to bend her elbow, but she will have full range of motion for her hand, wrist, and shoulder. Not only that, but this pattern allows you to "personalize" your jacket with a favorite pattern or character. Wearing this type of jacket, your kids can play contentedly and safely all day. And they don't have to look like they just left the emergency ward of the hospital.

------------------------------------Joanne Green is the mother of three cleft-affected children. She is also the Editor of WIDE SMILES Magazine.

*NOTE: The article was originally written for the magazine, and there WAS a diagram in the magazine. Anyway, these were the jackets I made for my kids. You make the sleeve twice as long as needed, and fold it up, sewing in six long pockets, lengthwise up each sleeve to fit the tongue depressors in. You can either sew the sleeve wrong side to right side of the front and back (so that the turned over pocket will show the right side of the material) or you can simply cut the pocket piece off, turn it around, and add it to the end of the sleeve, then turn it up. Either way, the end result is six long pockets the length of the sleeve in which to fit the tongue depressors.

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