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Feeding Milestones for Infants and Toddlers

by Melissa Carrier-Damon, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

After your baby is born, feeding them is one of the first things you do. Sometimes it’s an easy task, and for others, it can be difficult from the very start. After you get breastfeeding and bottling figured out, the next worry is when and how to start solids.

Knowing what to expect as your child progresses with eating throughout the years can be stressful. Like many other areas of development, it’s important to know what to expect as children grow and develop. A good understanding of feeding milestones and development for infants and toddlers up to 2 years of age can help parents identify early concerns. It’s important to note that every child develops at a different pace, and below are general guidelines to keep in mind.

Birth - 3 Months:

  • Consuming breastmilk and/or formula from the breast or bottle.
  • Latching, sucking, and swallowing should come without difficulty.

  • Eating 2-3 oz a feeding, 6-8x/day and sometimes more often if breastfeeding.

4 - 6 Months:

  • Beginning to eat pureed baby food and working up to eating up to 3 times per day.
  • Demonstrating increased neck and trunk control for sitting, and being fed in a supported highchair.
  • Shows interest in food. You may not see this until closer to 6 months of age.
  • Eating solids at this age is more for exposure to different tastes versus nutritional needs. A baby’s main form of nutrition should continue to be breastmilk/formula.

6 - 9 Months:

  • Baby should now be independently sitting and can hold their own bottle.
  • Will readily accept a spoon in their mouth by opening as a spoon is approaching.
  • Meltables and mashed/soft table foods are introduced (usually closer to 8-9 months), and babies can tolerate thicker pureed solids.

9 - 12 Months:

  • Sitting without the need for external support; however, continues to benefit from sitting in a highchair or booster for eating.

  • Consuming small pieces of soft-cooked vegetables, soft fruits, and finger foods.

  • Finger feeds themselves.

  • Adequately removes food to clear a spoon.

  • Able to transfer food (lateralization) when placed on center of the tongue to the side.

12 - 18 Months:

  • Eating coarsely chopped table foods.

  • Begin to self-feed using utensils.

  • Holds and drinks from a cup.

  • Uses tongue to move food from side to side in the mouth

18 - 24+ Months:

  • Consuming most table foods- including meats and raw vegetables.

  • Fed sitting unsupported.

  • Self-feeding using utensils by 24 months.

  • May refuse to eat certain foods and become more selective. It’s important to continue to offer a variety of foods.

If you have any concerns about your child’s feeding and swallowing skills, it’s important
to seek medical advice from your healthcare provider as early as possible. There are specialists who can help children with feeding issues, including lactation consultants, speech-language pathologists, and occupational therapists who have specialized training in feeding and swallowing.

Here at LifeScape, we also offer a free feeding/ swallowing screening that can be completed over the phone at 605-444-9778.

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