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Is Your Baby Choking or Gagging?

June 22nd, 2016 | By: Baby Self-Feeding
Teaching your baby to eat solid foods can be a scary experience. Here’s how to tell the difference between choking and gagging so you can ensure your baby is safe.

In This Article

Is Your Baby Choking or Gagging?

Before you start self-feeding it’s important to know that choking and gagging are two different experiences. 

What is Gagging

Gagging is very common amongst all infants and it can persist throughout infancy. Gagging is nature’s way of protecting the airway, where true choking occurs. It is another internal defense mechanism to help prevent your child from swallowing things that she shouldn’t eat or can’t handle yet.

Gagging is an uncomfortable sensation. It happens when the soft palate suddenly elevates the jaw, thrusts forward and down, and the back of the tongue lifts up and forward. In between the gags, a child is still able to breathe, cry and make vocal noises. 

While some gagging is expected and protective, you want to avoid doing things that will cause excessive gagging. If your baby is gagging too much, chances are she is not ready for the food you are feeding her. Excessive gagging can give your infant a bad first experience with food and can even induce vomiting. Repeated gagging leads to repeated vomiting and irritation of the esophagus. Too many episodes and your child will associate eating, the feeding chair and any mealtime experience with negative emotions and memories.