© 2016 John Wiley & Sons LtdThis study aimed to develop a scale called Tongue Thrust Rating Scale (TTRS), which categorised tongue thrust in children in terms of its severity during swallowing, and to investigate its validity and reliability. The study describes the developmental phase of the TTRS and presented its content and criterion-based validity and interobserver and intra-observer reliability. For content validation, seven experts assessed the steps in the scale over two Delphi rounds. Two physical therapists evaluated videos of 50 children with cerebral palsy (mean age, 57·9 ± 16·8 months), using the TTRS to test criterion-based validity, interobserver and intra-observer reliability. The Karaduman Chewing Performance Scale (KCPS) and Drooling Severity and Frequency Scale (DSFS) were used for criterion-based validity. All the TTRS steps were deemed necessary. The content validity index was 0·857. A very strong positive correlation was found between two examinations by one physical therapist, which indicated intra-observer reliability (r = 0·938, P < 0·001). A very strong positive correlation was also found between the TTRS scores of two physical therapists, indicating interobserver reliability (r = 0·892, P < 0·001). There was also a strong positive correlation between the TTRS and KCPS (r = 0·724, P < 0·001) and a very strong positive correlation between the TTRS scores and DSFS (r = 0·822 and r = 0·755; P < 0·001). These results demonstrated the criterion-based validity of the TTRS. The TTRS is a valid, reliable and clinically easy-to-use functional instrument to document the severity of tongue thrust in children.