Date of this Version
The developmental course of early chewing has rarely been studied, although such knowledge is essential for understanding childhood feeding and swallowing disorders. The goal of this investigation was to quantitatively describe age- and consistency-related changes in jaw kinematics during early chewing development. An optical-motion tracking system was used to record jaw movements during chewing in 3-dimensions in 11 typically-developing participants longitudinally from 9–30 months of age. Age related changes in jaw movement were described for both puree and regular consistencies. The findings demonstrated that the development of rotary jaw motion, jaw motion speed, and management of consistency upgrades are protracted across the first two years of life. Young children did not differentiate their jaw closing speeds for puree and regular consistencies until 18–24 months of age, at which age the speed of movement was significantly slower for the puree than for the regular consistency. Horizontal jaw closing speed decreased significantly with age for the puree consistency, but not for the regular consistency. The emergence of a rotary chew pattern was not observed at the ages studied.