Eating is a primary human activity needed for survival. But for very young children, feeding can be a complicated task that needs complex coordination of different oral motor skills—biting, chewing, and finally, swallowing. Most babies and toddlers learn instinctively over time how to suck, bite, chew, and swallow food and how to drink from a nipple, straw, and cup. But there are some who demonstrate difficulty learning these oral motor skills, interfering with their feeding development.
Young children begin their feeding journey by first learning how to suck liquids then chew single grain cereals or pureed food. When introducing solids, it is a messy process that needs plenty of practice and monitoring from parents. Certain difficulties like gagging, pushing food back, spills, and trouble with swallowing are normal and correct themselves over time.
Likewise, children with a feeding delay or disorder, they may exhibit a difficulty transitioning from one food type to the next. These challenges will persist as they get older if not addressed or given adequate feeding therapy.