Want to know the difference between gagging vs choking?
Are you prepared what to do in the unlikely situation where your baby or toddler may choke?
Are you about to begin BLW & are nervous?
Have already started and are still nervous about offering solids?
Let me just say… we started baby led weaning (real solid foods…no puree or mush) at 6 months old when Ava was showing all readiness signs, and we have NOT HAD ANY choking incidents (touchwood) till this day. She is now 2 years old. Choking can happen to anyone at anytime, young or old… all we can do is be prepared. Know the difference between ‘gagging vs chocking’ (read red & blue chart below), avoid choking hazards (see below), trust your baby *if coughing/spluttering (*gagging) leave her to it – she will manage it.
- Baby-led weaning (BLW) is when you let your baby feed themselves tasty finger foods right from the beginning.
- Spoon-led weaning is when babies learn to swallow first (purées) and chew later.
‘Besides all the skill development, self taught self-control, the beauty about baby led weaning is that the baby learns how to control, chew and handle different textures and foods right from DAY 1! Rather than suck, swallow motion which a puree/spoon-fed baby learns first… I get soooo many messages from puree/spoon-fed parents saying that their baby is so fussy and gagging a lot with new textures and finger foods and they find it so hard to switch their baby from purees too finger foods and are worried about choking! In this instance, stick with traditional gradual weaning… puree, then mashed/lumpy then finger foods… as baby now has to learn new textures and foods’
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GAGGING AND CHOKING?
Gagging (splutter, cough, may vomit) as opposed to choking (silent and unable to make noise) is a safety response to food travelling too far back into the mouth so when we see our bub gagging (coughing and splattering) they are actually handling the problem and it’s best just to stay calm and wait until she coughs it up or carries on. If its a bad gag i always offer some water in her sippy cup to Ava afterwards!
HOW TO AVOID CHOKING?
Doing a first aid course for babies, boosted our confidence in offering food to bub, we were a lot more relaxed and calm at meal times & because we were more relaxed, bub was more relaxed with accepting solid foods we also ALWAYS ensured bub was sitting up in a highchair or an inclined seat pram at meal times or upright on my lap, we also ensured she remained in control of her food at all times. I would never push food into Ava’s mouth, I would only offer by placing food on her tray or handing her a pieces of food. We would NEVER feed our baby laying down or in a car seat that reclines or a bouncer, would you eat laying down? This could lead to choking. We also always watch our baby when she eats at all times, especially if we hand her a piece of fruit or veg that has skin left on it for grip ie banana skin or avocado skin. We also downloaded this amazing first aid app called “baby and child first aid by british red cross”it’s free and always accessible on your phone in cause u forget what to do in case of any baby or toddler incident. Australia also follow the UK recommendations for choking, if u are from the US or other countries u may have different guidelines, there may be another app for u to be able to download & local first aid course u can go on!
FOODS THAT ARE CHOKING HAZARDS:
Grapes (always cut long ways in halves *or quarters if you don’t feel comfortable), cherries (remove stone), cherry tomatoes should be cut in half or quarters (longways), whole nuts and popcorn (avoided til at least 3yo) either crush them in foods or serve peanut butter or other nut butters, watch out for bony fish, cut off gristle on meats or anything that may contain hard pieces, cut sausages long ways.
A FEW TIPS TO TAKE AWAY: Always sit with your baby or watch your child when they are eating. Discourage your child from walking, talking, watching television, lying down, or doing anything else while eating that might distract him/her from his meal.
Let us all help educate those around us, choking deaths can be preventable. Here is a chart on the difference between gagging vs choking (please feel free to share this post):