How Cognitive, Speech + Language Milestones Help With Feeding
I talk a lot about developmental milestones here at ezpz. Milestones help parents know what to expect at a certain age and, if needed, they know when to ask for a referral from their pediatrician. Here are a few cognitive, speech and language milestones to look for that will help you and baby on your feeding journey!
Cognitive Milestones: Cognitive development refers to the way baby learns, including thinking, imagining, problem solving and organizing information. Your 9-month-old baby will likely love to learn through play! Here are some tips to encourage these cognitive milestones.
- Baby will Watch Objects Fall: Babies love to throw their plates and bowls and watch them fall to the floor. This is why the Tiny Bowl and Mini Mat were invented…to save parents sanity during this phase! Ideally, mealtime is not the time to have babies practice this cognitive skill, but you can assess this skill outside of the feeding environment. Use a favorite toy or stuffed animal to help baby learn to watch the path as (play) objects fall instead of (mealtime) objects.
- Baby will Move Things from One Hand to the Other: During this age, baby is eating with their hands and transferring food smoothly from one hand to the other. Baby will also be using a spoon at mealtime. The Tiny Spoon has a short, fat, round handle that helps baby practice this cognitive milestone.
- Baby Will Put Objects in Mouth: Babies put everything in their mouth at this age. Yes, everything! This makes us excited when baby starts their first foods, but choking hazards (both food related and household objects like buttons and coins) are a parent’s nightmare. Be prepared for this stage in baby’s cognition by taking a CPR course and being present at every mealtime. You’ve got this!
Speech + Language Milestones: As a speech language pathologist, I know that every baby speaks and understands at their own pace.But by the end of 9 months, parents should look forward to their baby’s first word and other exciting communication skills. Here are some ideas to foster speech and language milestones.
- Baby Makes Many Different Sounds: If you are using the Tiny Cup and Tiny Spoon during feeding you are improving your baby’s lip closure ability, which will help with swallowing, drinking, eating and communication too! Consistent feeding movements (with appropriately-sized feeding tools) provide the basis of good lip closure for early speech sounds such as the m, p and b. Look for your baby’s speech to consist of words like: mamama, papapa and bababa.
- Baby Understands No: At 9 months of age, your baby is starting to understand the language you use. Adults use the word “no” quite often when supervising a baby, especially when trying to keep baby safe, so it’s logical that this has become a receptive language milestone to look for! I encourage parents to check to make sure baby understands the word ‘no’ at this age. However, I recommend avoiding its use during mealtime as it can cause food refusal. Use positive language during mealtime to entice babies to try new tastes.
- Baby Will Copy Sounds and Gestures: If you are saying “mmmm” when you are eating a yummy bite of steamed broccoli, then baby will be curious and want to imitate you by trying a bite and saying “mmmm” too. Score! Remember, baby will want to copy all gestures at this age. So, if you make a face when you eat something that’s not your favorite, your baby will make that face, too, and may not be willing to try it! Teaching your baby to be adventurous with eating doesn’t mean you have to eat a huge amount of non-preferred foods. You just need to show baby how to take ONE bite!
I hope these milestones encourage you to have fun exploring the world through your baby’s eyes! Remember, these 9-month-old skills are a general guide. If you have any concerns or questions about your baby’s developmental journey, talk with your pediatrician at your next visit and discuss the milestones your baby has reached and what to expect next. You can also check out more developmental blogs at ezpzfun.com/blog. #ezpzfun
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 26 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning Tiny Cup & Tiny Spoon (for infants) and the Mini Cup + Straw Training System & Mini Utensils (for toddlers).