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J Am Coll Nutr. 2002 Apr;21(2):88-96.

Feeding behaviors and other motor development in healthy children (2-24 months).

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Nutrition Department, College of Human Ecology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 37996-1900, USA.



To monitor infant's gross, fine and oral motor development patterns related to feeding.


An incomplete block design was used with 57 to 60 (sample = 98) mothers interviewed when their children were 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16 and 24 months (within +/- 5 days of birth date). Each mother had 5 to 6 interviews.


Selected developmental feeding behaviors were monitored using in-home interviews conducted by trained interviewers (n = 2). At each interview, mothers reported the child's age when behaviors first occurred, and anthropometric measurements were performed.


Subjects were healthy white children who lived mostly in homes with educated two-parent families of upper socioeconomic status.


Mean behavioral ages were within normal ranges reported in the literature, whereas individuals exhibited a wide diversity in reported ages. Examples of gross motor skills (age in months, +/- SD) included sitting without help (5.50+/-2.08) and crawling (8.00+/-1.55). Mean ages for self-feeding fine motor skills showed children reaching for a spoon when hungry (5.47+/-1.44), using fingers to rake food toward self (8.87+/-2.58) and using fingers to self-feed soft foods (13.52+/-2.83). Oral behaviors included children opening their mouth when food approached (4.46+/-1.37), eating food with tiny lumps (8.70+/-2.03) and chewing and swallowing firmer foods without choking (12.17+/-2.28).


Mean ages for feeding behaviors occurred within expected age ranges associated with normal development. However, mothers reported that individual children exhibited a wide age range for achieving these behaviors. Our results should be considered in counseling mothers about infant feeding practices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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