Developmental Milestones and Feeding skills Birth to 36 months

Developmental milestones and feeding skills birth to 36 months

age (months) Feeding/oral sensorimotor
Birth to 4–6
  • Nipple feeding, breast, or bottle
  • Hand on bottle during feeding (2–4 months)
  • Maintains semiflexed posture during feeding
  • Promotion of infant–parent interaction
  • Baby will feed in semi-reclined position
  • Visually recognizes bottle
  • Continues to bring hands and toys/objects to mouth
  • Uses hands to pat bottle/breast during feeding
  • Begins to eat puree/smooth creamy foods by sucking food from a spoon
  • Child should demonstrate a good coordination of suck and swallow
  • By 6 months, child will swallow strained foods
  • Recognizes the bottle or breast
6–9 (transition feeding)
  • Feeding more upright position
  • Spoon feeding for thin, smooth puree
  • Suckle pattern initially Suckle right arrow suck
  • Both hands to hold bottle
  • Finger feeding introduced
  • Vertical munching of easily dissolvable solids
  • Preference for parents to feed
  • Eating in more upright positions
  • Tongue can lateralize/move toward cheeks
  • Mouthing and munching spoon, toys and biter biscuits
  • Holds own bottle
  • Drinking from a cup held for child
  • Eating mashed, soft table foods (potatoes, carrots, fruits, etc.) with creamy, lumpy texture
  • Drooling less except for teething
  • Bite and release observed
  • Moves food around in mouth using tongue, bites and chews toys
9–12
  • Cup drinking
  • Eats lumpy, mashed food
  • Finger feeding for easily dissolvable solids
  • Chewing includes rotary jaw action
  • Sitting upright during meals
  • Biting and chewing foods voluntarily
  • Eating finger foods with pureed meats
  • Meats should stay one consistency below vegetables and fruit child is eating
  • Controlled sustained bite
  • Developing a rotary chew pattern
  • Finger feeds self
  • Holds spoon during meals
  • Moves food around in mouth using tongue, bites and chews toys
  • Finger feeds self, chews food
12–18
  • Self-feeding: grasps spoon with whole hand
  • Holding cup with 2 hands
  • Drinking with 4–5 consecutive swallows
  • Holding and tipping bottle
  • Eating table foods, but meat chopped/cut up very small
  • Lips closed during chewing
  • Appetite decreases during this time resulting in food refusal occasionally
  • Brings a spoon to mouth and turns spoon over
  • Holds and drinks from a cup with some spills
  • Appetite decreases, may refuse food
  • Scoops food with spoon, brings food to mouth
>18–24
  • Swallowing with lip closure
  • Self-feeding predominates
  • Chewing broad range of food
  • Up–down tongue movements precise
  • Chewing with rotary jaw movements
  • Distinguishes between food and non-food items
  • Gives up bottle
  • Gives empty bowl or dish to an adult
  • Scooping foods to feed self, with some spills
  • Plays/explores foods with hands
  • Holds small cups with one hand
  • Plays with food
  • Knows the difference between food and non-food items
  • Transitions to a cup
  • Develops clear food preferences
24–36
  • Circulatory jaw rotations
  • Chewing with lips closed
  • One-handed cup holding and open cup drinking with no spilling
  • Using fingers to fill spoon
  • Eating wide range of solid food
  • Total self-feeding, using fork
  • Holds spoon between fingers, palm up
  • May have definite food likes and dislikes
  • Often the time ‘picky eater’ shows up
  • Unwraps food
  • Holds spoon
  • Uses a fork to feed self
  • Wipes mouth with napkin
  • May reject many foods due to slower rate of growth and more mature sense of taste
  • Attempts to serve self at table with spills
  • Pours liquids from small containers
  • Washes hands
  • May show dislike and refuse certain foods

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