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Typical Feeding Milestones for Babies 0-12 Months - from a Speech Language Pathology perspective.

Updated: Sep 29, 2019

Typical Feeding Milestones for Babies 0-12 Months

By: Hannah Truman, Speech Language Pathology Graduate Student: SUNY Cortland

Why is it important to know the typical feeding milestones for our babies?

The answer is, babies need nutrition to grow. The ways in which they acquire nutrition require complex development, coordination and strength of the oral structures. Babies must be able to manipulate their jaw, lips, tongue and teeth to receive the proper nutrition whether it is through breast feeding or from a bottle.

When we are aware of what typically should be occurring during infant feeding as our babies are growing, we can better recognize the what and why for when our baby is not growing or receiving adequate nutrition.

Atypical or abnormal development does not only impact the baby’s ability to take in food, but also the baby’s overall physical, emotional, communicative and cognitive development.

These are some key milestones specific to feeding for babies aged 0-12 months.

1-3 Months:

  • Tongue is large and completely fills the mouth.

  • Sucking pads: fatty tissue inside inactive muscles of the cheeks.

  • Allow for baby to suck and swallow during feeding.

  • Suckling: The baby’s tongue moves forward and backward allowing for a non-nutritive suck. This is important for the baby’s development of a mature suck in later months.

  • Rooting: The baby should turn their head towards the side of their face that has been touched.

  • When the baby is feeding, the baby uses a suck swallow breath (SSB) pattern with one suck, followed by one swallow followed by one breath.

  • Baby can successfully latch onto nipple or bottle.

4-6 Months:

  • Sucking pads are absorbed and disappear by 6 months of age.

  • Mature suck begins to develop.

  • Tongue moves up and down due to increased space in the baby’s mouth.

  • More developed lip muscles allow for a tighter seal around nipple.

  • Rooting reflex fades.

  • Begins to eat smooth, pureed food by spoon at 6 months.

  • Tongue moves food from the front to the back of the mouth.

6-9 Months:

  • Mature sucking is developed.

  • Tongue actively moves up and down with a very tight seal of the lips.

  • In a high chair, holds and drinks from a bottle.

  • Open cup for drinking is introduced.

  • Begins to eat textured, thicker pureed and mashed table foods.

  • Stays full longer after eating.

  • Starts to mouth objects for sensory exploration.

  • Up and down motion of the jaw for chewing emerges.

  • Shows strong reaction to new smells and tastes.

9-12 Months:

  • Finger feeds him or herself.

  • Eating an increasing variety of food with differing tastes, temperatures and textures.

  • Ready to try soft-cooked vegetables, soft fruits, and finger foods e.g. banana slices, cooked pasta.

  • Begins to drink with an open cup.

  • May be ready to start self-feeding with utensils.

  • Up and down motion of the jaw for chewing is present with tongue moving side to side inside the mouth.


Matheron, D. (2019, January). Lecture 6 pediatric overview 2019 [PDF document].

Pathways. (2015, February 5). Baby. Retrieved from development/baby/milestones/


A special thank you to Hannah Truman for writing such an insightful blog from her professional perspective! Speech Language Pathology is incredibly important in all walks of life --- but especially in the newborn population. We are so grateful for your addition here at Mamas Maternal Health.

For our readers--- thank you for reading and please sign up on our mailing list for Mamas Maternal Health updates and weekly blog posts at!

Until next time!

Mikayla and Cassie

Mamas Maternal Health Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors

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