Development of oral motor behavior related to the skill assisted spoon feeding

Infant Behav Dev. 2014 May;37(2):187-91. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2014.01.008. Epub 2014 Feb 23.


Milestones in the typical development of eating skills are considered to be nippling (breast or bottle), eating from a spoon, drinking from a cup, biting and chewing. The purpose of this research was to study the development and consolidation of oral motor behavior related to the skill assisted spoon feeding in young infants. The present study longitudinally investigated the development of this skill in 39 healthy children from the start of spoon feeding until the skill was acquired. The Observation List Spoon Feeding with 7 observation items for oral motor behavior and 6 items for abnormal behavior was used. Results showed that infants between 4 and 8 months of age needed 5.7 weeks (SD 2.1), with a range of 8 weeks (from 2 to 10 weeks) to acquire this skill. No significant correlation (p=.109) between age at start spoon feeding and weeks needed to develop the skill was found. During this period oral motor behavior consolidated and abnormal behavior diminished. With this study it is shown that the period in weeks needed to acquire the oral motor behavior for the skill assisted spoon feeding is important in case of feeding problems.

Keywords: Assisted spoon feeding; Development; Infants; Motor learning; Oral motor behavior; Weaning.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Bottle Feeding
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cooking and Eating Utensils*
  • Drinking Behavior / physiology*
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mastication / physiology*
  • Motor Skills / physiology*