15 Oral Motor Milestones for Your Developing Child

Oral motor development (movement and coordination of the lips, tongue, jaw, teeth, and hard and soft palates) is very important for speech production, safe swallowing, and consuming various food textures from sippy cups, straws, spoons, etc. 

Babies, toddlers, and children are in a constant process of adapting, refining, and mastering previously learned oral-motor skills while exploring new ones. Here are a few milestones to keep an eye on for your developing child:

At 9 to 12 months, babies will begin to:  

·         close their lips while swallowing liquids and soft solids

·         self-feed using their fingers (exploring small, soft dissolvable solids, such as soft crackers and small cereals like Cheerios)

·         experiment drinking liquids from a sippy cup

·         consume mashed table foods

·         drink out of a sippy cup and hold the handle independently

·         drink through a straw

 At 12 to 18 months, toddlers will:  

·         begin to eat finely chopped table foods

·         bite through crunchy foods such as cookies and crackers

·         move food in their mouths from side to side as they chew

 At 24 to 36 months, toddlers will:  

·         consume a variety of liquids and solids through straws and open-mouth cups

·         use a spoon to scoop soft foods while feeding themselves

·         independently move toward fine-tuning all feeding skills

 At 36 months to 5 years, children will:  

·         progress toward chewing and swallowing advanced textures (meats, fried foods, whole fruits, etc.) with the close supervision of a caregiver

·         begin (with close supervision) to use a fork to stab food

·         drink from an open mouth cup with no assistance

 As a graduate-student clinician who has been studying under Julie Demes, the speech language pathologist here at Rise, since January, I work on a lot of oral-motor skills to support speech and feeding. It’s been a pleasure working here at Rise and getting to know your children. 

Please reach out to Julie or your child’s teacher with question or for additional information regarding oral motor development and feeding skills.

 Liz Sweeney, BA
Graduate Student Clinician


Rise Office