Developmental Patterns

in Feeding and Swallowing
1-3 months: Typically a child’s lips are able to form a tight seal around the nipple.  Sucking and swallowing should be rhythmical and coordinated.
6 months: A child is able to accept and swallow pureed foods presented by spoon.  Children enjoy mouthing toys and teething biscuits.
9 months: A child can use the upper lip to remove food from the spoon.  Mashed table foods can be introduced at this time.
12 months: A child can bite and munch a soft cookie.  Children typically tolerate soft finger foods and mashed table foods at this age.
18 months: A child can drink from a cup with assistance, but experiences some liquid loss from the cup.  Children experiment with a variety of tastes and textures at this age.
24 months: A child can chew most table foods easily.  At this age, children typically tolerate all food textures, but do show food preferences.  Children can drink well from a cup or straw.
Parents and caregivers are typically the first to notice when a child has difficulty with feeding and/or swallowing.  Because these challenges can result in malnutrition, dehydration and respiratory problems if left untreated, parents need to recognize symptoms of a feeding disorder. 

These symptoms can include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Failure to thrive
  • Oral motor difficulties
  • Difficulty with solid foods or table foods (i.e. gagging, spitting out, vomiting)
  • Children fed via tube (i.e. G-Tube, NGT, OGT)
  • Behavioral feeding difficulties
  • Feeding/Swallowing difficulties secondary to neurological impairment
  • Difficulty sucking
  • Picky eaters
  • Coughing or choking with feeding
  • Recurrent respiratory infections
  • Changes in breathing patterns with oral feeding
  • Hyper/Hypo sensitivity
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