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Gagging

Talking about gagging

Gagging is a normal reflex that prevents your baby from choking. But because it’s not something you will be used to it can be really easy to mistake gagging for choking. Gagging is something babies do naturally so try not to panic when you see it happen. Use lots of reassuring words and comforting body language.

What is the difference between choking or gagging?

  • Choking is when food gets lodged in the throat and they are unable to breathe.
  • Gagging is when your baby spits back up food to stop them from choking.

Will puree food stop my baby from gagging?

Trying first foods for the first time means your baby is just as likely to gag on pureed foods as they are on mashed or finger foods. It just takes a bit of practice for little mouths to get used to food! Have a look at our page on first food recipes for some great meal ideas.

Tips for preventing gagging

The truth is that you can’t prevent gagging - it’s likely to happen at some point! But we’ve got a few suggestions that might reduce how often it happens.

  • Make sure you’re not putting too much food on their spoon, or that they’re sticking it too far into their mouth.
  • Make sure finger foods are nice and soft to start with - ready for your baby to use their gums to ‘chew’ them.
  • Stay calm! It’s hard to watch but let them work through the gag.
  • Make sure you have water to hand.
  • Let them feed themselves.
  • Encourage your baby to chew but avoid giving small items.
  • Foods such as whole grapes or whole cherry tomatoes must be cut into four equal pieces.
  • Make sure their little mouth is empty before the next mouthful!
  • Go at your baby’s pace.

Tips from parents:

"Don't stress about gagging (you'll know the difference between gagging and choking) as it's important that your baby learns to use their gag reflex."

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Food & Eating Weaning & first foods Baby (0-1 years)

Last updated: 26 Jun, 2020