Learn about Oral Motor Development in babies from Dr. Peggy S. Eicher MD.
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Female Speaker: This is just a little cartoon to illustrate this. We have the suck swallow emerging between 32 and 34 weeks with birth, that’s integrated with respiration to give us a suckle patten where the tongue and jaw move together in anterior-posterior fashion. This is normally guided by the suckle reflex, so baby doesn’t have to think about it. As the baby practices and the reflex is integrated, we get more of a dissociation between the tongue and the jaw allowing the tongue to go up and down in a sucking pattern, which enables us to initiate spoon feeding. And typically this occurs anywhere between four and six months. With more stability through the jaw and more dissociation, we get munching which is the small rhythmic up and down movements of the jaw as well as and just as importantly the side to side movement of the tongue to enable us to push the food over to the molar surfaces and recollect it. And this is illustrated here by the little cheerio which want to push it over to the side you can just crunch it and it will dissolve. With further developments, you get more of complex grinding movement of the jaw and a rotary component of the tongue in order to break up meats and grind them into little bits, which is represented here by the utensils. Okay, now just as you are familiar with gross motor development and sequential progression for that, oral motor development follows exactly the same. So you have a sequential time progression with each stuff building on the skills of the former. So we all know that a baby can’t walk before they push up in prone or a pro, it’s a sequential progression. So let’s see how this fits together. Okay, so we have the infant head elongating into more of the adult head and at the same time we have the motor pattern going from a simple suck swallow to the grinding and rotary component for chewing. Now in the normal situation, these are time to occur, so that as you get elongation and require more motor transport pattern that’s what’s happening. If you have a child who is unable to advance their pattern such as in a child often times with cerebral palsy as you get elongation of head but you have the mismatch of the oral motor pattern you can see that it sets the child up for having the potential for a feeding problem.