Non-organic failure to thrive among socio-economically deprived inner-city infants may be associated with abnormal oral-motor functioning and aspects of social adversity, such as disorganised meal-times. A Feeding Assessment Schedule was devised to rate oral-motor behaviour objectively and was used to test nine pairs of case and comparison children while they were being fed at home. Video-recordings were made for later analysis. The case infants had immature and abnormal oral-motor development that made them less able to be fed successfully. Temperamentally they were more 'difficult' than the comparison infants, and they were less adept at signalling their needs during meal-times. The case infants also were fed in inappropriate positions for their age, with more distractions and less suitable utensils.