Baby Led Weaning

Growing healthy babies with healthy appetites

The Gagging Thing v. The Choking Thing

Okay, here goes.
I have no idea why I am largely impervious to the sight of my beloved daughter gagging… perhaps I am just cruel? Other people, such as her Grandma or her Auntie Sharron to name but two, cross the room at the speed of light the minute Babybear starts the tiniest gagging incident and it's all 'ohmygodshe'sCHOKING!' and slaps on the back.

And what does that achieve, ladies and gentlemen? One upset and confused baby, who was in the process of cleverly moving some food round to the front of her mouth with her tongue when some crazy adult swooped in and started battering her.

I do, however, understand why they react in this way – it's not nice when you see someone you love struggle to do something (and if Grandma and Auntie S take a similar approach when she is buying her first flat then all will be well).

What I can tell you is that prior to starting the baby led weaning business I attended an Infant Resuscitation Class at my local maternity hospital. I should have gone while I was pregnant, apparently, but I didn't, so there.

We got Grandma to baby sit while DH and I (and a couple of friends of ours, actually, which was pleasant cos we went for lunch afterwards) headed for the hospital. There was a heavily pregnant woman there who looked about as dazed as I would have been if I had gone at the correct time. She mostly stared at the plastic doll babies, then looked at her stomach, then back again, as if realising for the first time the enormity of what she had done. (Not to mention the enormity of the thing which would soon be emerging from her lady bits… anyway, I digress).

The class was excellent, can't recommend it too highly. I was lucky that my husband (you know the one, Babybear's father) was able to take the morning off so he could come with me because if it had fallen to me to explain how to resuscitate his child when I got home I would have wanted to smother him. Then resuscitate him, presumably.

Basically we all got to practise with the frighteningly realistic dolls, turning them upside down to pop obstructions out of their mouths and watching their little plasticky chests inflate. It really made me feel a great deal more confident about dealing with incidents, should they arise. Which I'm glad to say they haven't.

Gagging, as opposed to choking, is actually a safety response to food travelling too far back into the mouth so when we see our babies gagging they are actually handling the problem and it's best just to keep calm (or at least look calm) and wait until it passes. I give her a wee drink of water immediately afterwards which she seems to like.

I think that this is actually quite a good infant resuscitation website, but it is no substitute for a real class with a real (fake) baby.

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3 Responses to “The Gagging Thing v. The Choking Thing”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I'm experimenting with blw at the mo, I think its a fab idea, Laura is loving being in control of what she has, although its mainly pear and melon that are the worst cause of the gagging.
    There is a lot of mucussy stuff when she manages to get it out, and its usually followed by most of her lunch.
    I'm sure she's not choking, but there have been a few gasps for air as she realises something seems to be stuck. I can oik out the latger bits that she bites off, (presently teething and the chilled melon is taking a pounding) 2p sized chunks are easy to flick out of her mouth. the smaller almost little fingernail sized bits seem to cause her the problem.
    should I be starting on harder veg etc? then I won't have the gagging issue?

  2. Anonymous says:

    To be honest, Small needed to go through the gagging learning curve in order to work out how to deal with all of the different textures. She'd gag pretty often in the early days but after about 6 weeks or so it really tailed off, until at 9 months I can't remember the last time she gagged. So – my personal feeling is not to try to avoid causing the gagging but rather to let them work through it.
    The theory is that you shouldn't need to be hoiking anything out of her mouth – she should be able to work it out herself. This can take an inordinately long time but Small does always eventually spit out anything she can't cope with.
    You could try steaming the pear a bit (if its on the hard side) then, if she does bite off a goodly-sized piece it should mush down in her mouth quite quickly.
    If she is bringing up a lot of stuff when she is gagging, it could be that her gag reflex is a bit over-sensitive (a friend is going through this at the moment with her son) and she'll need a bit of time to grow out of it.
    BTW – my only choking incident with Small was very recently when she developed delusions of competance with a pear and tried to swallow without chewing it at all.

  3. Anonymous says:

    LOL at 'delusions of competency'. i'd agree with Lin about the hoiking out, to be honest. surely by the time it's in their mouths there's not problem? next time, try and leave it so you can see what happens.
    what about steamed carrot, have you given that a try? it's nice and soft and easy to manage. or Jersey Royal potatoes are in season at the moment, i remember they were a big favourite when we started off.

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