Feeding and Swallowing Milestones from 12 to 18 Months

Essential feeding and swallowing milestones for toddlers aged 12 to 18 months

Feeding and Swallowing Milestones from 12 to 18 Months

Guiding Your Toddler Through Feeding and Swallowing: 12 to 18 Months

As toddlers grow, they develop more sophisticated feeding and swallowing skills. The 12 to 18-month period is a time of rapid growth and learning, where children start mastering the use of utensils and drinking from a cup. Understanding these milestones can help parents support their child’s burgeoning independence.

12 to 18 Months: Growing Self-Feeding Skills

What Your Child Can Do:

  • Sits independently, with feet supported.
  • Self-feeds using utensils or fingers with increasing proficiency.
  • Drinks from a sippy cup unaided and begins using an open cup, albeit with some spills.

Eating and Drinking Abilities:

  • Maneuvers food in the mouth with the tongue, shifting it from side to side.
  • Uses a straw efficiently without spilling.

Recommended Foods:

  • Diverse textures, including mixed consistencies (IDDSI Level 7).

Supporting Your Toddler’s Feeding Development

  • Self-Feeding Encouragement: Provide child-friendly utensils that are easy to grip to encourage self-feeding.
  • Cup Transitioning: Introduce open cups and straws to advance their drinking skills, moving away from bottles and sippy cups.
  • Exposure to Varied Foods: Offer a range of foods to promote a balanced diet and acceptance of new tastes and textures. It’s normal for toddlers to be hesitant with new foods, but repeated exposure can help.
  • Recognizing Cues: Help your child to identify feelings of hunger and fullness, which promotes healthy eating habits.
  • Interactive Mealtimes: Engage your toddler during meals with playful interactions, such as making funny shapes with food or storytelling to make new foods seem fun.


The stage between 12 to 18 months is full of new experiences for your child as they explore the world of food. Patience and encouragement are key as they learn to handle different food types and manage more control over their eating.

Remember, each toddler reaches these milestones at their own pace. However, if you have concerns about your child’s feeding and swallowing development, do not hesitate to contact an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist for an assessment.

By offering a supportive environment and being receptive to your child’s needs, you can lay the groundwork for a lifelong positive relationship with food.

Source: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. "Feeding and Swallowing Milestones: 12 to 18 Months." ASHA.org, https://www.asha.org/public/developmental-milestones/feeding-and-swallowing-milestones-12-to-18-months/.