Developmental Delay Red Flags
for Feeding Babies
Our section on 'feeding skills' is here as a guide for you. Look
for developmental milestones when feeding your child.
you review each Feeding Skills section by Age Group, look for
this flag. If you are concerned that your child is not
engaging in age-appropriate feeding behaviors and reaching
developmental milestones, speak with your pediatrician.
Thankfully, there are many ways to deal with delays in child
development and behaviors.
These include in-home services, outpatient (you take your child
to a clinic), inpatient (following injury or surgery) and school
based services. Which type of therapy should you choose?
Visit our Therapy
Options area to learn more.
Ask a Therapist
We understand developmental milestones and the challenges of
Special Needs children. We spend a great deal of time with
families understanding the inner workings of childhood routines
and interactions. Ask us about your child today!
Ask a Therapist
Feeding Skills for
Infants, Toddlers, and Children
Is My Baby's Feeding Development Typical?
baby feeding requires appropriate motor development throughout the body and
mouth, good sensory integration techniques, healthy routines, and most of
all an enjoyment of the experience!
Eating is a huge part of our lives. When it does not work as you expect
or is a stressful event - tension inevitably develops.
Developing feeding skills are crucial for a host of reasons including
basic survival, social interaction, exploration, and communication.
There is nothing more troubling to a parent than a child not eating
Feeding concerns arise from a variety of mild to severe causes. The
earlier your child's concerns are addressed and recognized, the more likely
secondary problems, such as behavioral and relationship problems, can be
Failure to Thrive
A study of 160 Failure to Thrive (FTT) infants in Montreal with an
average age of 8.8 months, concluded the average age of onset of feeding
problems was 3.1 months and the average referral time by pediatricians for
help was 19.2 months (1999 Ramsay).
are a number of professionals who may offer support and recommendations,
including but not limited to, speech therapists, occupational therapists,
nutritionist/dietician, psychologists, and physicians.
It is always best to start with your child's pediatrician.
Report specific concerns you may have related to your child's food intake,
behaviors, and discomfort observed during and following mealtime. The
pediatrician has been monitoring your child's growth (height, weight, head
circumference) and will be able to assess the progression curve of growth.
There are a variety of 'normal' growth patterns. Consistent growth is a key
factor. Linear growth (height) is the best measure of long term nutrition.
In general, babies should triple birth weight by 12 months and increase
length by 50% (2002 Tarbell).
You know your child best. Have your specific concerns addressed as soon
as possible for your child's well being. Keep a journal, one week or more,
of what foods your child is eating and how much. You may want to include any
of the following when discussing your concerns:
- Avoidance responses to specific foods and textures (gag response,
vomiting, blocking spoon with hands or closed lips, verbal protests,
pushing food away, and other avoidance responses)
- Abnormal bowel movements (constipation, diarrhea, loose stool) and
- Skin reactions (dry patches, hives, rashes)
- Coughing throughout meal
- Discomfort (crying, arching back, irritability, retching)
Consider a Mealtime Video
is difficult for a pediatrician to observe meal related behaviors during a 5
or 10 minute office visit. Therefore a brief video at meal time with your
child demonstrating undesired behaviors can be great tool to support your
Your pediatrician can recommend/prescribe an evaluation from a therapist
or clinic specializing in feeding problems. It is best to seek out help as
early as possible. Some feeding concerns may be minor and resolved quickly.
However, other concerns may disrupt family meal routines and daily
functioning, or be severe enough to impair your child's health.
Feeding Skills by Age Group
The following are feeding skills developmental stages, defining expected
feeding behaviors and postures in each age range. Included are 'red flags'
to warn of particular developmental delays you should look out for.
Find Early Intervention
Support contacts in your State. If you have a question or comment for
us, please visit our Contact page.
Early Intervention Helps with Developmental Delay
For children with Special Needs, intervention in early childhood
development means finding specific ways to help a child become as functional
Learn more on our Parenting
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