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. Newborn to 6 months, typical development includes:
- Nipple feeding, breast, or bottle
- Hand on bottle during feeding (2-4 months)
- Promoting infant-parent bonding and interaction during feeding time
- By 3 months, your baby should have a coordinated suck/swallow/breathe, with observed coughs if coordination becomes irregular; sequencing 20 or more sucks from bottle/breast
- By, 4-6 months, your baby should be using longer sequencing of suck/swallow/breathe, with forward-backward movement of the tongue while feeding
- At this time your baby is rolling over, bringing his/her hands to mouth, learning to control their body against gravity, and building neck and truck control
2. Between 6 and 9 months, typical development includes:
- By 6 months, as long as a baby has good trunk control, can hold his/her neck up, is rolling over, and brings his/her hands to mouth, you can begin introducing thicker consistencies/solids, per guidance of your pediatrician
- At 6 months, your baby should have a more mature sucking pattern with increased lip movement around a nipple or a spoon
- At this time, your baby is mouthing hands and toys more, beginning to crawl, reaching and using pincer grasp (i.e. coordination of your index finger and thumb to hold an object/food), object permanence (i.e. understand objects exist even if they are present), is sitting more independently
- Spoon feeding for thin, smooth purees
- Both hands used to hold a bottle
- Finger feeding introduced
- Preference for parents to feed
- By 9 months, your baby will demonstrate long sequences of continuous sucks when drinking before taking a breath
- By 9 months, a more mature pattern of chewing is beginning for easily dissolvable solids
- By 9 months your baby should be stable while sitting in a high chair and no longer need extra support for his/her body
3. Between 9 and 12 months, typical development includes:
- Start using cup for drinking
- Eating lumpy, mashed food that is more solid in nature
- Finger feeds for easily dissolvable solids
- Chewing includes a rotary jaw action
- Your baby will cough when drinking from a cup, if needed
- Increased movement of the tongue to manipulate food
- Taking more controlled bites and suck on harder food to soften it before taking a bite
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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.