North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Domain: NC Foundations for Early Learning: Health and Physical Development (HPD)

Subdomain: Self-Care

Goal: Children develop independence in caring for themselves and their environment.

Skill Progression: Eating/drinking

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List of Skills by Age

1-2 Months

Tongue moves in and out (suckling)

Takes two or more sucks before swallowing or taking a breath

May lose liquid from side of mouth

2-4 Months

Tongue flat and cupped

Jaw, tongue, and lips move together

4-6 Months

Opens mouth adaptively; closes lips

Develops a suck-swallow pattern

Gums solid food

Swallows some thicker pureed foods

Ejects food with tongue

6-8 Months

Helps bring bottle to mouth

Takes one or two swallows from a cup

Self-feeds soft biscuit with one hand

Chewing present

8-10 Months

No longer loses liquid from mouth when breast/bottle removed

Takes ground or junior foods and mashed table foods

Opens mouth as spoon approaches

Uses upper lip to remove food from spoon

Uses fingers to self-feed small bites

10-12 Months

Helps hold cup

Decrease in up-and-down jaw movement in cup drinking

Grabs spoon in fist

Uses graded, controlled bite

Tips bottle to drink and self-feeds whole bottle

12-15 Months

Holds and drinks from lidded cup using two hands

Suck-swallow-breathe pattern coordinated during a long drinking sequence

Feeds self with fingers

Eats coarsely chopped table foods, including chopped meats

Dips spoon in food and brings it to mouth; turns spoon to get contents in mouth

Uses well- coordinated diagonal rotary chew

No longer drools unless teething

15-18 Months

Uses fisted grasp on spoon

Feeds self with spoon, turns in mouth, spilling

Minimal loss of food during chewing

Eats most meats and raw vegetables

Chews with mouth closed

Lifts cup to mouth with one hand, may tip or drop cup

18-21 Months

Tries to pour from small container

Handles cup well with two hands

Easy lip closure; no loss of food or drink

Eats a variety of textures

Transfers a bolus of food across the midline of the tongue

Attempts to unwrap food

21-24 Months

Unscrews a bottle lid (wrist rotation)

Gives up bottle for travel cup with straw

Unwraps food in simple wrapping

Holds spoon and keeps it upright

Point of spoon enters mouth first

Sweeps tongue to clear lips

24-27 Months

Demonstrates taste and texture preferences in food; makes requests

Demonstrates oral motor skills necessary to eat foods from all food groups

Uses tongue to clear area between gums and cheek

27-30 Months

Eats the same foods as the rest of the family

Grasps spoon with fingers

Grades mouth-opening to size of the bite

30-33 Months

Wipes own hands and mouth with napkin

33-36 Months

Transfers food from side-to-side in mouth

36-42 Months

Holds and drinks from a cup with one hand

Chews with grinding movement

Stirs, scoops, and pours

42-48 Months

Pours from larger jug to cup

Eats well with fork and spoon

48-54 Months

Holds fork in fingers rather than fist

Uses knife to cut soft foods

54-60 Months

Uses a knife to spread food items

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

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