Feeding Skills from Birth to 12 Months

This blog will highlight the developmental phases regarding oral motor development and taste and texture and food preference from birth to 1-year-old.

Before birth

  1. The development of sucking and swallowing begins in the mother’s womb and can be observed during sonograms. These skills are important in order to prepare for the child’s first feeding.

Birth to 6 months

  1. The rooting reflex is a basic survival skill observed following birth. This reflex involves your baby finding and latching onto a bottle or your breast. You may notice your baby moving their tongue up and down and in and out. Your baby will primarily accept formula and breastmilk as they develop the readiness skills for accepting solid foods (e.g., gross motor & GI system)

4 to 6 months

  1. Once your child shows readiness skills for accepting solids, you may begin introducing purred and mashed foods. A baby’s taste preferences are rapidly growing and they may show easier acceptance of new foods; it is better to introduce a wide range of tastes in this period.

**It is normal to see some gagging when first introducing foods.

6 to 12 months

  1. Your baby may show eruption of front teeth and can chew softer lumps and keep most food in the mouth. They should begin holding food and bringing food to their mouth. Your baby should tolerate lumpy solids, mash with soft lumps, and bite and dissolve soft meltable-solid foods.

The following is a list of characteristics of a baby who may require a feeding evaluation from a trained pediatric feeding therapist.

  1. Unable to latch to breast or bottle without help
  2. Weak suck
  3. Need for pacing, flow management, or rest breaks
  4. Need for special equipment to breast or bottle feed
  5. Often too tired to eat or quickly falls asleep with eating
  6. Breast or bottle feeds best when asleep (i.e., dream feeds)
  7. Unable to transition to solids
  8. Unable to wean from breast or bottle

PFD impacts 1 in 37 children under the age of 5 in the United States.

A feeding questionnaire from Feeding Matters can be found here:https://questionnaire.feedingmatters.org/questionnaireto help identify if your child may need intervention. Talk to your pediatrician about your concern with your child’s feeding skills. Call Sidekick Therapy Partners to schedule an evaluation with our feeding therapists.

Samantha Shaffer M.S., CCC-SLP