Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Date of this Version



Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 55 (April 2012), pp. 626–638; doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0236)


Copyright © 2012 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Used by permission.


Purpose: The purpose of this investigation was to describe age- and consistency-related changes in the temporal characteristics of chewing in typically developing children between the ages of 4 and 35 months and adults using high-resolution optically based motion capture technology.

Method: Data were collected from 60 participants (48 children, 12 adults) across 5 age ranges (beginners, 7 months, 12 months, 35 months, and adults); each age group included 12 participants. Three different food consistencies were trialed as appropriate. The data were analyzed to assess changes in chewing rate, chewing sequence duration, and estimated number of chewing cycles.

Results: The results revealed both age- and consistency-related changes in chewing rate, sequence duration, and estimated number of chewing cycles, with consistency differences affecting masticatory timing in children as young as 7 months of age. Chewing rate varied as a function of age and consistency, and chewing sequence duration was shorter for adults than for children regardless of consistency type. In addition, the results from the estimated number of chewing cycles measure suggest that chewing effectiveness increased with age; this measure was also dependent on consistency type.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that the different temporal chewing variables follow distinct developmental trajectories and are consistency dependent in children as young as 7 months of age. Clinical implications are detailed.