Choking vs Gagging

Introducing your baby to solid food is a very exciting milestone in your parenting life. It can also be a
very stressful time for many parents. One of the areas that creates stress for many parents is the
worry that their baby will choke. It is important that you never leave your baby alone while eating,
this is actually a good rule for all stages of life. Having done a first aid and cpr course is a good life
skill to have in general. Knowledge about choking and how to prevent it, is important.

A baby has a built in gag reflex that will stimulate or trigger, vomiting or coughing, when food,
hands or other objects get close to the airways. The younger you are, the closer the front of the
mouth is, this is a protective measure for very young babies. As babies start to put their hands in
their mouths, scratching those itchy gums or just getting older, the reflex moves further back in the
mouth. Some babies have a strong gag reflex and may gag a lot, while others seem to learn very
quickly what to do with their food to avoid this.
Gagging is normal and it helps baby’s learn how to handle their food. They may cough, make noise
and go red in the face. They are likely to deal with it and carry on eating. When a baby chokes, the
airway is blocked, there will be no sound. The chest and ribs are pulled in as the baby struggles to
breath. This is the time to take actions and to implement what you learned at your first aid and cpr

There are ways to keep your baby safe when introducing foods:
– Never leave your baby on their own with food.
– Make sure your baby is physically ready to introduce solids to them.
– Prepare foods into stick shapes, and cut round foods length ways.
– Check meat and fish for bones.
– Avoid distractions like TV and let your baby focus on eating the food.
– Have a sippy cup or beaker of water available.

Gagging – Do not interfere with a gagging child, this can lead to actual choking.

Choking – If your child is silent and turning blue, proceed to using standard first aid measures to dislodge the blockage.


Samantha Crompton BNURS SACLC
The Baby Lady

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