Paediatric feeding is an important part of Speech Pathology that many people are unaware is part of the profession. Many children that are born with a developmental disability will present with delayed speech and language but they may also present with difficulties and delays in their feeding skills that a speech pathologist can help with. Below are the feeding milestones of a normally developing child for each age.
Birth to 4 Months
Infants at this age will display thumb and finger sucking behaviour, will recognise a nipple or bottle and place their hands on the bottle or pat the bottle while being fed.
5 months to 6 months of age
At this age a baby can independently hold a bottle with one or two hands and mouth solid foods and foreign objects when exploring. Babies also display a mouth opening reflex when presented with a spoon near the face.
6 months to 9 months of age
A baby at this age begins to eat solid foods and feed themselves however, will prefer to be fed by an adult. They are able to drink from a cup with the assistance of an adult to hold the cup. They will often reach for a spoon when in sight and play or bang the spoon with other objects.
9 months to 12 months of age
At this age a child will hold solid foods such as a soft cookie or banana and be able to bite through it. They will most often eat lumpy or mashed food still and begin to develop rotational chewing skills. They may also imitate a stirring action with spoons.
1 year to 1 ½ years
Children at this age are able to grab a spoon with their whole hand and manoeuvre it from the plate into their mouth. They are now able to drink out of a cup without assistance using both hands, use a straw and take multiple consecutive swallows while drinking.
1 ½ to 2 years of age
Children at this age should no longer be using a bottle and should now be drinking from a cup with minimal spillage. Children should now be self-feeding often and be able to scoop food with a spoon and feed themselves with some spillage in transit. They develop a defined up and down tongue movement, swallow with their lips closed and are able to chew a broad range of food.
2-3 years of age
A child at this age has refined feeding skills and is able to self feed using a spoon or fork using rotational wrist movement with little spillage. Chewing has evolved to a stable rotary jaw action with lips closed and the ability to bite through a range of food thicknesses. The child should also be able to hold an age appropriately sized open cup in one hand and drink from it with little spillage.
If your child does not appear to be meeting the above milestones or is having difficulty being fed or feeding themselves in a 30 minute time block then it is recommended that they be assessed by a qualified Speech Pathologist.
If you have questions or concerns about paediatric feeding contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see a speech pathologist. We‘ll provide you with a straightforward, efficient and very effective treatment plan targeted to your concerns. Contact us today!