Contributions of Motor Status and Experience to Feeding Skill Development for Solids

April 21, 2022 1:00 pm

Feeding success is defined as the acquisition of oral feeding skills and texture advancement from liquids to solids, which is typically correlated to age. The field lacks an understanding of those critical skills that support skill acquisition, texture advancement, and consumption for nutrition. Variability of oral feeding skill performance in infancy led to consideration of other contributions to feeding success. Using motor learning theory, we considered motor skill development and amount of feeding experience as potential contributors. Typically developing infants (N=63) were categorized into unique groupings by age (8, 10, 12 months), motor status (sit, crawl, walk), and weeks experience with solids (0-2, 3-5, 6-9, 10+). Feeding videos were scored for presence of oral feeding skills. Nutritional intake was averaged for each child via 3-day dietary intake. Descriptive data were generated for skill performance and one-way ANOVAs were conducted to compare effect of age, motor status, and experience on performance. No statistically significant performance differences were found across skills by age, motor status, or experience groups but all children demonstrated at least 60% (31/52) of all skills. While the greatest proportion of solid intake was comparable for children at 12 months, those who walked, and those with 10+ weeks experience, the number and types of individual skills performed were more complex for those who walked and those with 10+ weeks experience. Overall, complexity increased from age to motor status to experience level. Experience appears to contribute to achievement of advanced oral skills and may have the greatest influence on nutritional intake given the trajectory of intake across experience levels. The high baseline of skills achieved may be innate or a function of earlier experience. These findings can have a significant impact on how we assess a child for feeding development as well as appropriate treatment strategies.

Learning Objective
Participants will be able to:

  • Recognize contribution of motor status and experience in addition to age when assessing feeding skills


  • Kallia Reske

    Ms. Reske is a senior at Marquette University majoring in Speech Pathology & Audiology with a minor in Spanish for Health Professions. She has worked in Dr. Amy Delaney’s Neurodevelopmental Feeding & Swallowing Lab (NDFS) since Summer 2020. She was a Marquette University Biomedical Sciences Summer Research Program Fellow (Summer 2021) in Dr. Delaney’s NDFS Lab and has continued her work as a research assistant. Ms. Reske was a research assistant in Dr. Steven Long's English Accented Spanish Lab from Fall 2018 to Spring 2019.

    Financial Disclosures: Kallia Reske and the Department of Speech Pathology & Audiology have received funding from the Marquette University Biomedical Sciences Summer Research Program.
    Non-Financial Disclosures: None

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  • Amy L. Delaney, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

    Dr. Delaney is an Assistant Professor in Speech-Pathology & Audiology at Marquette University.   She is the Director of the Neurodevelopmental Feeding and Swallowing Lab focusing on the identification of a norm-reference for feeding development to establish diagnostic criteria and assessment tools for the early and accurate diagnosis of pediatric feeding disorder.  Dr. Delaney worked at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin for 20 years in advanced diagnostics and intervention for medically complex children with PFD and dysphagia.

    Financial: Amy Delaney receives a salary from Marquette University​.
    Nonfinancial: Serves as Educational pillar chair for Feeding Matters. Serves on ASHA’s annual conference planning committee.

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  • Christian Stilp, PhD

    Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, University of Wisconsin – Department of Psychology, 2011. Post-doctoral trainee in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, 2011-2012. Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Louisville.

    Financial: Christian Stilp is employed by the University of Louisville. Receives a stipend from ASHA. ​
    Non-Financial: None 

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