Weaning 101: Choking vs gagging

Whether your little one is starting on pureed foods, finger foods or both, a common concern for parents is choking.

Babies have a very sensitive gag reflex which means gagging can be a regular occurrence, but it’s important to remember that it’s normal. In response, remain calm and allow your little one to respond naturally, and never try and fish the food out as this risks pushing it further in and causing a choking hazard.

The trouble lies in differentiating gagging from choking, which is far more serious, and the key is sound. Gagging means your little one will be coughing and spluttering, therefore air is getting through. When choking, the airway is blocked and no sound can be made, requiring immediate attention. For instructions and videos on how to respond to this, head to the Red Cross page here. There are also some excellent first aid courses that parents like to attend for peace of mind. 

As well as being prepared with the knowledge of what to do should choking occur, here are a few other important recommendations to reduce the risk of choking:

  • Avoid foods that are high choking risks, such as:
    • Whole nuts (which shouldn’t be given to your little one before 5 years) 
    • Whole small fruits, such as grapes and cherries – chop these up before serving
    • Dried fruits. Again, you can chop these up and serve
    • Raw, hard foods, such as carrots, which can easily be broken and form a choking hazard. Soften these by cooking before serving.
    • Remove tough skins, pips & seeds from foo
  • Wean when ready, not before 4-6months. If you’re unsure, ask your health care provider
  • Ensure your baby is always sat upright when eatin
  • Never leave your little one unsupervised whilst eating

This post was originally written for Mia & Ben