APPENDIX 6: Typical Development & Reflexes

Table 22: Developmental and Oral Motor Skills Associated with Feeding Progression and Normal Oral Reflexes

The following is a guide reflecting typical development. Not all children will progress systematically though each age group.

Age Group

Progression of Liquid and Food

Oral Sensorimotor Function

Development Skill


0 to 4 months

  • thin liquid (e.g. breastmilk, formula)
  • suckle on nipple
  • forward-backward tongue movement
  • adaptive oral reflexes e.g. rooting, sucking
  • head control acquired


(32-37 weeks gestation to 3-6 mos.)



(18 weeks gestation to 4-5 mos.)


Tongue Protrusion (38-40 weeks gestation to 4-6



Transverse Tongue (28 weeks gestation to 6-9 mos.)


Phasic bite

(28 weeks gestation to 9-12 mos.)



(26-27 weeks gestation and through life)



(35-40 weeks gestation and through life)

4 to 6 months

  • thin purees (e.g. rice cereal, pureed fruits)
  • suckle off spoon
  • separation of tongue and jaw movements
  • transition from reflexive suckle to suck (up-down) tongue pattern
  • gross motor control of head and neck, trunk control
  • sitting balance
  • hands midline

7 to 8 months

  • thick purees (e.g. pureed potato, rice, cereal, fruit)
  • textured purees or soft mashed (e.g. banana, potato, pasta)
  • some protective oral reflexes desensitized
  • cup drinking
  • vertical munching
  • hand-to-mouth play
  • reach, pincer grasp
  • starts to assist with spoon- feeding

8 to 9 months

  • bite and dissolve foods (e.g.  baby biscuits)
  • soft finger foods – early chewing foods (e.g. pasta, soft fruit and vegetables, bread)
  • hard munchables for exploration
  • emerging lateral tongue movements
  • unsustained bite pattern
  • core stability developing

9 to 12 months

  • hard finger foods (e.g. biscuits, par-cooked vegetables, fresh fruit)
  • harder or chewy finger foods (breads, pasta, eggs, deli meats)
  • cup drinking independent emerging rotary chewing
  • graded bite through harder or chewy food
  • refines pincer grasp - finger feeding
  • grasps spoon with whole hand

12 to 18 months

  • complete range of textures with some modification, including mixed texture (e.g. lasagna, minestrone)
  • lateral tongue action established
  • straw drinking
  • increased independence for feeding
  • scoops food, bring to mouth

18 to 24 months

  • more chewable food (e.g. steak, raw vegetables, hard fruits)
  • mature rotary chewing
  • emerging or controlled sustained bite on hard foods


24 months and above

  • complete range of textures or family foods
  • ongoing refinements of oral skills
  • controlled sustained bite
  • total self-feeding, increased use of fork, cup drinking (open & straw), no spillage

(NSW Office of Kids and Families, 2016)