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Resources for Feeding, Eating, Drinking, Speech, and Mouth/Airway Function

NEWBORN CHECKLIST: A Full-Term Baby (40 weeks gestation) (©Diane Bahr) Place a check mark next to the characteristics you see in your newborn baby

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Typical Full-Term Newborn Baby (40 weeks gestation)

YES   NO  
Has a closed mouth & easy nose breathing when resting/sleeping (nothing in mouth)        
Rests tongue in the roof of the mouth to maintain broad palate shape        
Is free of tongue, lip, and/or cheek ties        
Moves tongue toward the side of touch (transverse tongue reflex)        
Gags when back ½ of tongue stimulated (gag reflex)        
Has a full set of sucking/fat pads in cheeks        
Opens mouth, closes eyes, & moves head forward when base of palm pressed (Babkin reflex)        
Roots when cheeks/lips stimulated leading to suck (rooting reflex)        
Has good sucking, swallowing, & breathing coordination        
Uses anterior tongue reflex to grasp & pull breast into mouth        
Breastfeeds with breast drawn deeply into mouth & good lip seal        
Sucks & swallows breast milk or formula approximately 1 per second (swallowing reflex)        
Bottle-feeds with body upright at a 45+ degree angle to the horizon (ear above mouth)        
Bottle-feeds using paced, baby-led, bottle-feeding        
Cups/Grooves tongue when feeding (different on breast than bottle)        
Latches lips properly on breast or bottle (different on breast than bottle)        
Tightens grasp on finger during sucking (grasp reflex)        
Moves lower lip out for latch when palm touched (palmomental reflex)        
Mouths own hands & fingers near front of mouth        
Suckles hands & fingers approximately 2 per second (non-nutritive suckling reflex)        
Has rhythmic biting pattern when gums stimulated (phasic bite reflex)        


When Held Upright
Lifts & holds head up in line with body for a few seconds (birth to 1 month)        

When on the Stomach
Rests head to one side or other on cheek        
Can bring hand to mouth on side to which head is turned        
Can lift & turn head using head, neck, & lower spine lifting muscles        
Has elbows bent & lifted with hands close to shoulders at rest        
Has knees & ankles bent at rest        
Shifts weight toward shoulders as hips are lifted allowing head to lift & turn        
Moves legs more than the arms        
Moves legs in thrusting or crawling motion (birth to 1 month)        

When Turning Head & Body to Each Side
Turns body to the side of head-turn from lying on the back (full head-turn; log roll)        
Roots to stimulate head/body turning toward breast or bottle in side-lying        

When on the Back
At rest, usually has arms & legs close to body with a small head-turn, as well as knees & thighs in the air with feet resting on a surface        
When moving, straightens arms & opens hands or bends arms & closes hands, as well as kicks legs energetically & rhythmically        
Bends body, arms, & legs at the same time (birth to 1 month); straightens body & tries to straighten arms & legs (birth to 1 month, tonic labyrinthine reflex)        
Closes hand around adult’s finger or object (grasp reflex), & can bring hand to mouth on side where the head is turned        
Turns body with head (when head turns fully) to the side of head turn (log roll)        
Roots to stimulate head/body turning toward breast or bottle, & can move head down, up, & sideways to adjust head position        
Uses vision best with head & neck supported, & follows objects with eyes from side to middle of body at 8 to 9 inches distance        
Seems to move arms with eye gaze (possible beginning of eye-hand organization), & visually prefers strong contrast black & white patterns        
Arms, legs, hands, & head extend, quick breath, then arms come together with hands closed & loud cry with abrupt changes in head position & unexpected environmental changes causing increased heart/breathing rate & blood pressure (moro/startle reflex)        
Moves arm & leg outward on the side toward the baby’s head turn; arm & leg on the other side of the body bend at the knee & elbow (asymmetric tonic neck reflex)


Primary References

•Bahr, D. (2018). Feed your baby and toddler right: Early eating and drinking skills encourage the best development. Arlington, TX: Future Horizons.
•Bahr, D. C., & Hillis, A. E. (2001). Neurological and anatomical bases. In D. C. Bahr Oral motor assessment and treatment: Ages and stages (pp. 1-41). USA: Pearson College Division.
•Bly, L. (1994). Motor skills acquisition in the first year: An illustrated guide to normal development. USA: Psychological Corp.
•Feldenkrais, M. (1972). Awareness through movement (Vol. 1977). New York: Harper and Row.
•Morris, S. E., & Klein, M. D. (2000). Pre-Feeding skills: A comprehensive resource for mealtime development. (2nd ed.) . San Antonio, TX: Therapy Skill Builders.
•Neuro Restart (2019). Primitive reflexes. Retrieved from
•Vulpe, S. G. (1994). Vulpe assessment battery-revised: Developmental assessment, performance analysis, individualized programming for the atypical child. East Aurora, NY: Slosson Educational Publications.