Pediatric Feeding Milestones
Feeding ability varies from child to child, however, most follow a general progression with defined feeding milestones. Learn the important stages of feeding by clicking on the tabs below.
See our pediatric speech-language milestones here.
Feeding Milestones for Ages 0 to 5 Months
- Should swallow liquids but will push most solid objects from mouth due to the following reflexes:
- Rooting reflex – baby should to seek out and grasp breast or bottle nipple.
- Suck and swallow reflex – baby should begin suckling or sucking movements when lips are touched and his or her tongue should be moving liquid to back of the mouth for swallowing.
- Tongue thrust reflex – Baby’s tongue will move out of the mouth to allow feeding from a breast or bottle, but this will inhibit taking in food from spoon or cup.
- Gag reflex – Baby will quickly move an object, like a spoon or solid food, forward out of back of mouth.
- Baby should have a diet that consists of breast milk and / or infant formula with iron.
- Baby can close lips to seal mouth
Feeding Milestones for Ages 4 to 6 Months
- Gag reflexes should diminish.
- Tongue thrust and rooting reflexes should subside.
- Should be able to take food into the mouth from a spoon.
- Should be able to move his or her tongue up and down.
- Should be able to sit up with your help.
- Should start using his or her lips to draw in food off of a spoon.
- Should swallow semi-solid food like infant cereal, strained fruit and strained vegetables.
- Should start up and down munching.
- Should open his or her mouth when you hold up a spoon.
- May drink from a cup with help, but expect some spilling.
Feeding Milestones for Ages 5 to 9 Months
- Your baby will be able to control the position of food in the mouth to position food between jaws for chewing.
- Your baby will be able to munch food.
- Your baby will begin to eat mashed food.
- Your baby will be able to eat from a spoon very easily.
- Your baby will begin to eat food with his or her hands.
Feeding Milestones for Ages 10 to 12 Months
- Should be able to move food from side to side in mouth.
- Should begin to curve lips around the rim of a cup.
- Should begin to chew in a circular manner.
- Should be able to eat finely chopped food.
- Should be able to eat small pieces of soft food
- Will start to use a spoon but will often opt to self feed with his or her hands
- Should be able to drink from a cup with little spilling.
- Diet will consist of diced soft fruit or vegetables, strained meat or poultry, cottage cheese, yogurt, soft cheese, soft bread and crackers, breast milk, iron-fortified formula or fruit juice.
Feeding Milestones for Ages 12 to 18 Months
- Should be able to use a spoon proficiently
- Should be able to feed him or herself quietly.
- Should be able to bite through harder foods if teeth are present.
- You can introduce whole milk and eggs into the diet.
Feeding Milestones for Ages 18 to 24 Months
- Should be able to chew and eat most foods, but you should still cut up food into small non-circular pieces that pose a choking hazzard, like hot dogs.
- Should be able to eat with mouth closed.
- Should be able to drink from a cup proficiently without spilling too often.