Gagging vs choking

There is nothing more frightening than the thought of your child choking.  Understandably, many parents feel nervous about solids and choking so it is important to understand how to minimise risks and also, the difference between choking and gagging.  Basically, choking is when they can't breathe; gagging is when they have bitten off more than they can manage in their mouth.

It's common for babies learning to eat to sometimes gag, cough or splutter.  When babies gag their eyes may water and they might appear rather distressed.  Try not to panic (hard we know!)  Just smile at them and talk calmly as they eventually swallow the mouthful.

From six months onwards, you will need to introduce mashed foods to help your baby learn to accept and manage different textures.  The trick is making sure these lumps aren't too hard or too big or your baby might struggle.  A good rule of thumb is to make sure the lump of food is soft enough for your baby to squash between their tongue and the roof of their mouth.

Some foods should not be given to children under three years as they may lodge in your babies or toddler’s throat and cause choking. Examples of problem foods are hard raw fruit or vegetables such as carrot, whole cherry tomatoes or grapes, rounds of cooked sausage and whole nuts.

Besides the above, the best thing you can do to avoid choking is to always ensure baby is sitting down and to keep an eye on your baby whilst they are eating.