Feeding development and difficulties

Feeding Development

  • Typical Feeding Development - Feeding Development Framework

    During the first few weeks to months of life feeding gradually changes from a reflexive to a learnt behavior.  The progression from reflexive to voluntary independent feeding occurs along a developmental continuum involving a complex interplay between the child’s motor, sensory, cognitive, social and emotional development and their mealtime or feeding environment.

    The Feeding Development Framework developed for this project provides a systematic method for understanding typical feeding development.

    The Feeding Development Framework has four domains:

    • Mealtime Environment
    • Social and Emotional Development
    • Physical, Sensory and Oral Motor Development
    • Communication and Cognitive Development

    To indicate the interrelatedness of all the elements of feeding and eating we have represented these domains as an interlocking puzzle. The outer ring of the puzzle represents the child’s broader environment. Click a puzzle piece for detailed information.

    The framework considers feeding development in four key developmental stages:

    • Exclusive Breast or Formula Feeding
    • First Foods
    • Increasing Variety
    • Independent Feeder

    These stages have been identified as key stages in feeding development. Feeding problems may develop within any of these stages or in transitions between stages.  A sound understanding of typical feeding development provides a framework for the assessment and management of feeding difficulties.

    The information within the Feeding Development Framework is supported by a series of videos.