Chewing movements of normal 5-, 6-, 7-, and 8-year-old children were measured and compared across age, food textures, and gender. Applesauce, graham cracker, and raisins were used. Measures were taken on 98 children: eighteen 5-year-olds (9 boys, 9 girls); thirty-five 6-year-olds (16 boys, 19 girls); twenty-six 7-year-olds (13 boys, 13 girls); and nineteen 8-year-olds (10 boys, 9 girls). Comparisons were made with data of another twenty 5-year-olds (10 boys, 10 girls) from a previous study. Chewing movements were measured by time, number of cycles, and a time/cycle ratio.
Food texture affected time, cycle, and the time/cycle ratio. Age affected time and cycles. Data from earlier studies are used to describe the development of chewing between the ages of 2 and 8 years. Results indicate that eating skills for different food textures mature at different rates. Skills for eating solid foods mature before skills for eating viscous and pureed foods mature. Thus, the consistent use of food textures is important when children’s eating skills are evaluated. The normative data presented here may be used by clinicians evaluating children within the given age group.