Smyrna/Vinings: 770-927-7424 | [email protected]

North Druid Hills: 770-927-7424 | [email protected]

THE STAGES OF ORAL MOTOR DEVELOPMENT

What are oral motor skills?

Oral motor skills encompass the use and function of the lips, tongue, jaw, teeth, and hard and soft palates. The combination of these structures is essential in speech production, safe sucking/swallowing, and consuming a variety of textures and foods. The strength and coordination of these functions are foundational for feeding tasks such as tongue lateralization, sucking, munching, licking, and swallowing. Oral motor skills also play a big role in the development of facial expressions.

The Development of Oral Motor Skills

Oral motor skills begin to develop in the womb and are fully functional by 3 years of age. Difficulties in the development of oral functions can lead to:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty with speech articulation
  • Open-Mouth posture
  • Inconsistent eating habits
  • Low range of motion in the tongue
  • Difficulty sucking, swallowing, and chewing


Oral Motor Development Stages

Below we have outlined some common indicators of oral motor development in the infant stages of a child’s life. (Keep in mind that every child is different, and may not fall into all indicators at a specified time) :


BIRTH TO 3 MONTHS OF AGE

  • Oral reflexes begin to develop
  • Feeding become more of a voluntary process
  • Hand on bottle during feeding (2-4 months)
  • Most of the voluntary eating habits have set in by 6 weeks of age
  • Most children are usually bottle or breast fed during this time period
  • Emission of crying sounds, vowel sounds, smiling and making gestures when talked to in singsong.


3-7 MONTHS OF AGE

  • Feeding in a more upright position
  • Lateral tongue movement (horizontal movement of the tongue)
  • Spoon feeding with thin, smooth purees
  • Both hands are introduced to hold the bottle
  • Finger feeding is introduced
  • Munching patterns are developing (Vertical munching of easily dissolvable solids)
  • Babbling of two syllables in a row
  • Smiling & vocalizations when shown objects
  • Intonations of disgust


7-9 MONTHS OF AGE

  • Cup drinking can be introduced slowly
  • Eating lumpy & mashed foods
  • Increased jaw stability allows for chewing easily dissolvable solids
  • Development of rotary chewing (jaw moves in a circular motion to grind food)
  • Babbling of duplicated consonants


12-15 MONTHS OF AGE

  • Child has developed basic the oral motor skills needed for feeding
  • Open Cup drinking can be normalized
  • Self feeding is initiated (grasping spoon) with firmer foods (cheese,fruits, etc.)
  • Drinking with 4-5 consecutive swallows
  • Swallowing with lip closure
  • Rotary chewing of a broad range of foods
  • Up and down tongue movements persist
THE STAGES OF ORAL MOTOR DEVELOPMENT

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