A bit of theory


A fetus in the womb can suck and swallow. At birth, infants must quickly master the art of breathing, and learning to coordinate sucking and swallowing with breathing, so that they can feed without starting to choke. With time, babies gradually learn to hold their head steady, bring their hands and other things to their mouth, and recognize foods by sight, smell, taste, and texture.

At full term, the sucking instinct is sufficiently developed that newborns can be put to the breast right away.

Rooting reflex

Rooting reflex

When you stroke a newborn’s cheek or the corner of his lips, he automatically turns his head in that direction, mouth open. This reflex, called the “rooting reflex”, helps young infants find a source of food (the breast and nipple).

reflexe de succion

Sucking reflex

When you put your finger to an infant’s mouth or touch the roof of his mouth, he starts to suck.

From full-term birth to age 3 months, babies depend on milk as a food source. At first, infants instinctively press the nipple between tongue and palate to draw out the milk. Rounded cheeks improve dynamics by filling the space. Every now and then, the infant will pause for breath. The infant’s head and back need support.


Transition to mature sucking

With better control of the tongue muscles, infants begin to move their tongue around from top to bottom, drawing milk out more effectively within a few days. Sucking improves, more milk is drawn into the mouth, swallowing becomes faster and breathing more regular. The transition to this more mature well-coordinated suck may be more difficult in infants born preterm.

Bottle feeding best positions

Age 3-5 months: mature sucking
At this age, mature sucking has set in. Babies feed more often whenever they go through a growth spurt. They can now hold their head unsupported. At this age, babies don’t have enough lip control to clean out a spoon. They can, however, suck on solid or pureed foods. Sometimes, though, the gagging reflex sets in, as they are not used to swallowing anything thicker than milk.

Age 5-7 months: variety

At this stage, babies are always hungry! They can sit upright in a high chair. With better lip control, they eat baby cereal and other pureed foods from a spoon. They may even chew on the spoon itself! Teething biscuits are a good lead-in to solid foods.

Feeding introducing solid foods

Age 8-10 months: self-feeding

At 8-10 months, babies use their gums to chew soft foods, which they move around the mouth with their tongue. They can eat soft or crumbly foods, such as pasta, well-cooked vegetables, and baby cereal. Non-finger foods can now be served mashed instead of pureed.

VBabies this age strive to be independent. They grasp the spoon from your hand and try to feed themselves. They pick up bits of food from their tray. They are proud to drink from a sippy cup.

Age 12-24 months

By 12 months of age, babies learn to drink from a regular glass. You can start by giving tiny amounts of liquid at first, as it’s likely to spill. Sometime between 12 and 18 months, babies can feed themselves with a spoon. Between 12 and 24 months, they’re eating table foods, and mealtimes are not unlike you own.

Did you know…?

It takes years for children to learn to appreciate certain foods. Mixed textures, (textures mixtes), like soups with pieces of meat, vegetables or pasta, are the most difficult to master. This is why they are often introduced last, sometimes not until age 4.

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