Toddler Milestones

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Eating and Drinking

Below are some of the typical milestones to expect as your child grows, followed by some red flags that might indicate a problem.

Between 12-18 months, your child will:

  • Eat ground, mashed, or chopped table foods (including soft pieces of meat) by 15 months
  • Use her tongue well to move food from side to side in the mouth
  • Lose a bit of food or saliva out of the mouth while chewing
  • Bite foods well
  • Eat coarsely chopped table foods, including meats and raw vegetables by 18 months
  • Sometimes chew with lips closed
  • Drink from a cup well without losing liquid out of her mouth by 18 months
  • Feed herself using a spoon, dropping some food off the spoon
  • Start to refuse some foods

By 24 months (2 years), your child will:

  • Swallow well from a cup with good lip closure around cup and no loss of liquid
  • Swallow food well with good lip control and no loss of food
  • Chew with jaw movements that go round and round, as well as up/down and side to side
  • Know the difference between food and non-food items
  • Scoop foods with a spoon, with some spills
  • Start to stab food with a fork and get it to her mouth
  • Start to show clear likes and dislikes of some foods

Between the ages of 2 and 3 years of age, your child will:

  • Eat the same foods as the rest of the family
  • Feed himself well with a spoon and fork
  • Have definite food likes and dislikes
  • Refuse certain foods
  • Possibly start to become a “picky eater”
  • Wipe his own mouth and hands with a napkin or cloth
  • Start to serve herself at the table with some spills
  • Pour liquids into his cup from a small container

Red Flags for Eating and Drinking Problems

  • Arching or stiffening of the body during feeding
  • Coughing or choking during feeding
  • Being very irritable/fussy during or after feeding
  • Taking a really long time to feed (more than 30-45 minutes)
  • Frequent spitting up
  • Getting sick often with pneumonia or chest infections
  • Gurgly, hoarse, or breathy voice
  • Less than normal weight gain or growth
  • Lots of leakage of food or liquid from the mouth
  • Coughing, gagging, or throwing up during or after meals
  • Stuffing mouth with food
  • Holding food inside pockets in mouth for long periods
  • Difficulty accepting new textures of food

Avoidance behaviours to specific foods and textures (gagging, vomiting, blocking the spoon with hands or closed lips, crying, pushing food away, etc)

Abnormal bowel movements that last longer than a few days (diarrhea, constipation, loose stool)

Skin reactions to foods (dry patches, hives, rashes) Note: If your child seems to be having a severe allergic reaction to a food (difficulty breathing, turning red, developing hives or rash on the face/chest), you should seek medical help immediately.