Oral Motor / Feeding

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Oral Motor Delay

Typically, Oral Motor Delay is present in the child with feeding problems. The suck-swallow-breathe pattern in infants may be poorly developed. Muscles of the tongue, jaw and lips may be weak with chewing patterns underdeveloped.

Feeding Aversions/Delay

Children will have difficulty drinking from a bottle or cup, chewing solid foods and with textures. Some children choke or gag on food while others drool and spill food from their mouths. Other children experience sensory issues transitioning to solids or when offered new foods. These children may be overly sensitive to specific tastes or textures or demonstrate an under-reaction to foods, craving spicy or crunchy foods.

Oral Motor/Feeding Milestones

  • 4-6 months- Babies are introduced to soft solid foods such as cereals and pureed fruits and vegetables. Cup drinking may also be introduced (6 months).
  • 6-9 months- Soft cookies may be introduced as well as ground or lumpy solids.
  • 10-12 months-Mashed or soft table foods are introduced, babies will also take most of their liquids from a cup. At 12 months, babies have a controlled bite and are able to bite through cookies.
  • 13-15 months- Continued improvement with biting skills, will also use a straw or regular cup.
  • 16-18 months- Children are given more challenging foods that require chewing, such as meats and vegetables.
  • 19-24 months- Children will begin to gain more control of cup drinking and will bite the cup less. They are learning to drink in longer sequences with little or no spillage.
  • 2 years- Children are able to manage any type of food they like as they have learned all the skills they need to eat every type of food.

Common Referral Criteria for A Feeding Evaluation:

  • Delay in feeding milestones
  • Weight loss or lack of weight gain for 2-3 months
  • Persistent gagging or coughing while eating
  • Irritability surrounding meals
  • Severe behavior problems related to feeding
  • Food refusal or very limited diet