ABCs of Growing Healthy Kids: Development and Feeding Skills

This article provides information about the stages of development and feeding skills in children to help you care for your baby.
ABCs of Growing Healthy Kids: Development and Feeding Skills - Articles

Updated: September 1, 2016

ABCs of Growing Healthy Kids: Development and Feeding Skills

Birth Through 5 Months

Mouth Patterns

  • Suck/swallow reflex
  • Tongue thrust reflex
  • Gag reflex
  • Rooting reflex

Hand and Body Skills

  • Poor control of head, neck, trunk
  • Brings hands to mouth around 3 months

Feeding Skills or Abilities

  • Swallows liquids but pushes most solid objects from the mouth; unable to move solids from the front. At this age, they are not able to move solids from the front to the back of their tongue.

4 Months Through 6 Months

Mouth Patterns

  • Draws in upper or lower lip as spoon is removed from mouth
  • Up and down chewing movement
  • Can move food from front to back of tongue to swallow
  • Tongue thrust and rooting reflexes begin to disappear
  • Gag reflex diminishes
  • Opens mouth when sees spoon approaching

Hand and Body Skills

  • Sits with support
  • Good head control
  • Uses whole hand to grasp objects

Feeding Skills or Abilities

  • Takes in a spoonful of pureed or strained food and swallows it without choking
  • Drinks small amounts from a sippy cup when held by another person (spilling or leaking may occur)

8 Months Through 11 Months

Mouth Patterns

  • Moves food from side to side in mouth
  • Begins to chew in rotary pattern (diagonal movement of the jaw as food is moved to the side or center of the mouth)

Hand and Body Skills

  • Sits alone easily
  • Transfers objects from hand to mouth

Feeding Skills or Abilities

  • Begins to eat ground or finely chopped food and small pieces of soft food
  • Begins to experiment with spoon but prefers to feed self with hands
  • Drinks from a sippy cup with less spilling

10 Months Through 12 Months

Mouth Patterns

  • Rotary chewing (diagonal movement of the jaw as food is moved to the side or center of the mouth)

Hand and Body Skills

  • Begins to put spoon in mouth
  • Begins to hold sippy cup
  • Good eye-hand-mouth coordination

Feeding Skills or Abilities

  • Eats chopped food and small pieces of soft, cooked table food
  • Begins spoon-feeding with help

This is a sequence for normal, healthy, full-term infants. Developmental stages may vary with individual babies.

Originally prepared by Katherine Cason, associate professor of food science.

Updated in 2014 by Jill Cox, MS, RD, program development specialist, Penn State Extension Better Kid Care, and Mary Alice Gettings, MS, RD, nutrition consultant, with funding from the Penn State Extension Better Kid Care program.

Authors

Claudia Mincemoyer, Ph.D.