Childhood development is complex and it’s not always easy to tell if your child’s development is considered “typical.” If you’re worried that your child’s feeding development may be atypical, here is a tool for you to use. These are the developmental milestones for feeding that average children meet by certain ages.
1. Between 12 months to 18 months, typical development includes:
- Self-feeding: grasps spoon with whole hand using pincer grasp (i.e. coordination of your index finger and thumb to hold an object/food)
- Your baby should suck food off a spoon
- Holds cup with two hands
- Your baby should now have a well-coordinated suck/swallow/breathe sequence (4-5 consecutive swallows) and rarely cough or have choking spells.
- Holding and tipping a bottle
- By 15 months, your baby should be tolerating a variety of food textures
- By 18 months, a more mature pattern of chewing is developed where food is pushed from the tongue to the teeth and moved back to the tongue to prepare for swallowing.
- Your child will have good lip closure while chewing and not lose food when eating. He/she should take a controlled bite of a hard cookie, and may demonstrate some behaviors to assist with the bite (i.e. tip head slightly back or move arms/legs while biting).
- Your child now has excellent hand-to-mouth skills and may be able to drink from a straw.
- At this time your child should be walking, refining gross and fine motor skills, climbing stairs, and grabbing and releasing objects with precision
2. Between 18 months and 24 months, typical development includes:
- Your child should be able to drink well from a cup or straw
- Self-Feeding predominates
- Your child should be dewing a broad range of food textures
- Your child should demonstrate controlled biting patterns and be able to keep his/her head steady while biting into food.
- At this time your child should be gaining independence from parents, improving their equilibrium with extremities, and using tools
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DISCLAIMER: Information published about one particular disorder does not necessarily apply to every individual who has the disorder discussed in this article. Treatments, therapies and suggestions are highly individual and must be customized to the needs of each person to be effective. Do not make changes to your/your child’s treatment plan as a result of what you read in this article (or any content published by AASL) without consulting your/your child’s physicians and therapists. This content does not necessarily reflect the opinions of All About Speech and Language or its therapists. To understand the opinions and recommendations of your/your child’s AASL therapist, schedule an appointment with your therapist to discuss your concerns.
Food Chaining: The Proven 6-Step Plan to Stop Picky Eating, Solve Feeding Problems, and Expand Your Child’s Diet (Cox, Fishbein, Fraker, Walbert). Da Capo Press: Cambridge, MA. 2007.
Swallowing and Feeding in Infants and Young Children: Table 3—Developmental Milestones and Feeding Skills Birth-36 Months (Arvedson, Joan). GI Motility Online (2006): doi:10.1038/gimo17.