Feeding Skill Development

Facilitating the development of feeding skills in the infant or child who feeds orally or non-orally may be considered as a management strategy in response to the five questions regarding feeding safety and adequacy, feeding as a positive experience, development, and efficiency.  


  • It is important to consider the child’s neurodevelopmental skill level when working with parents and children to facilitate oral feeding skills. 
  • As involuntary neonatal reflexes transition to voluntary movements, feeding skills can change and issues may emerge. This can be confusing and frustrating for parents who thought feeding was typical and now has changed. 
  • Collaborative goal setting enables parents to have a good understanding of the goals of the intervention, and of the timeline for the initiation and progression of feeding development. 
  • Interventions that are based on motor learning principles, and offered in the first two years of life when the brain is most plastic, yield the best outcomes.
  • Reliance on compensatory strategies longer than clinically require may result in reliance on the strategy for life.
  • Children with delayed or disordered oral reflexes and/or oral sensorimotor dysfunction will need individualized treatment techniques to improve physiology and facilitate oral sensorimotor function.
  • Oral feeding progress can change from feed to feed, and day to day. As a result, monitoring and reassessment are essential.