Talk to me about gagging...

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Talk to me about gagging...

Postby KristyAndLeo » 26 Jul 2016, 16:01

Leo is 26w and we started BLW 3 days ago. I've read the book, scoured the Internet for tips/videos, read the blog posts on here, joined several Facebook groups and signed up for an infant first aid course but... the gagging!! I know the difference between choking and gagging but it still is quite daunting to watch!

 I've gone with the philosophy of giving him whatever we are having but making it baby friendly i.e cutting food into chip size portions, steaming veg for an extra few mins, no salt etc. But has anyone got any food preparation tips for reducing the choking risk? I worry that he will gum food and then have a piece in his mouth that he could choke on! I've seen him struggling with small bits of toast, broccoli and strawberry. I know the function of the gag reflex but I'm just wondering whether there's something I should or shouldn't be doing in the early days as he learns to chew and swallow -

Are there any foods you think we should avoid until he's got the hang of chewing/swallowing (other than the usual nuts, grapes, cherry toms etc)?

What do you do about food that can't be cut into chip size portions like pasta?

What about small foods like beans?

What about foods with skin on like tomatoes?

Should I steam certain fruit before offering as well as veg?

Should I mush food slightly i.e. between my fingers first?

When is a good time to offer meat?

This may read like the ramblings of a mad woman but hopefully you can help me keep going in these early days!

Kristy x
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Re: Talk to me about gagging...

Postby Treeb » 26 Jul 2016, 19:58

Step 1: Take a deep breath - it's all going to be ok!

It's totally normal to be stressed at first, particularly if you have a very gaggy baby. You'll be surprised how quickly he picks up the skills though, and in a few weeks his gagging will likely be reducing quite a bit.

Raw apple and other firm fruit can be a bit troublesome so steaming it quickly or frying it in a little butter to soften it can be a good idea.

Chip shape is just to make it easier for them to hold while they are figuring things out. It's fine to offer pasta, small things, etc. but they might have a little trouble picking it up until they develop pincer grasp.

You can offer meat any time.

Really, a lot of things depend on your individual child. If you find that certain foods are extra gaggy for him you can choose to avoid those foods for a couple weeks, then try again and see if he's developed the skills to handle it better. If peels seem to bother him go ahead and cut them off. We peeled things for my son because he had trouble with them, but left them on for my daughter who would just sit out the bits of peel after sucking the fruit of them.

Hope that helps - I think my response is just as scattered and rambling as your questions!
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Re: Talk to me about gagging...

Postby KristyAndLeo » 27 Jul 2016, 07:26

Thank you for replying!

I think maybe we started a bit gung ho, literally giving him what we were having just cut up. We quickly realised that the crust on the toast was a bit more difficult to manipulate and originally I left the skin on potato but he had a piece stuck in the side of his mouth for ages.

I think my biggest concern at the moment is that he can gum off a piece of food that is too big to swallow. Surely in theory though if it's soft/squishy then he couldn't actually choke on it even if he struggles a bit with the size of it?

How would you offer strawberries and food that is too small/not the right shape to cut into chip size portions?

What about veg that gets 'stringy' such as cauliflower? I suppose you can't choke on that?

Meat does scare me... I've read about how to offer it in strips and cut either with or against the fibres depending on the type of meat, but even adults choke on meat.

We had no gagging yesterday but that was probably because he had yoghurt and sweet potato!

I was so adamant we were doing BLW I think I've just lost my nerve a bit. Thank you for keeping me (a bit more) sane about it all! X
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Re: Talk to me about gagging...

Postby StJuniper » 27 Jul 2016, 11:47

If he gums off a piece too big to swallow-- and he will until he learns to manipulate food better-- that will be the gag reflex's time to shine! The gag reflex is so far forward on his tongue at this age that the chunk will hit it and be gagged out long before it gets anywhere near his airway.

I always bought large strawberries and quartered them lengthwise. You could also squish them onto toast or rice cakes. Meat tends to be sucked on rather then bitten off as its tough to bite through with just gums.

Don't worry, we were all nervous newbies once. The best antidote is time-- the more you watch your little guy handle food with aplomb, the easier it will get to relax!
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Re: Talk to me about gagging...

Postby emzit » 27 Jul 2016, 13:37

In the early days I liked to roast veg up in chip shapes, and bite the end off before giving it to my boys. The roasted outer bit is usually too hard for them to bite through but biting the ends lets the soft flesh come out in a less chokey form. I'd steer clear of leafy things like spinach as they can be hard to chew and get a bit gaggy.

Honestly, it sounds like you are both doing really well! Remember it's not just a learning process for him, it is for you too and you'll come to know his strengths and which food he can handle best and ways to serve things so he can cope better. They are all so different!
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Re: Talk to me about gagging...

Postby ChristmasGift » 27 Jul 2016, 19:23

All sound advice. Just to add, not sure where you are but if you are UK based and anywhere near an asda, they do giant fusilli which is perfect for pasta meals until they learn to pick up smaller things!

Don't be scared of meat - my LO loved jus gumming the juices out (things like roast beef or pork). As treeb said, they are all different - some get on really well with toast for example but mine found that really hard to manage - she was all over roasted veg though.

Gagging is so hard to watch but once you've seem them gag something up and then merrily carry on a few times you'll realise it usually bothers us parents far more than it bothers the babies. In the early days I only gave mine food when someone else was here with me as I just felt more relaxed.
You are doing all the right stuff so (try to) relax and have fun!
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Re: Talk to me about gagging...

Postby KristyAndLeo » 27 Jul 2016, 22:43

Oh thank you so much everyone. It's really put my mind at ease and some really useful tips (I am in the UK so will nip to Asda tomorrow!).

I think I felt prepared as I'd read the book, but I hadn't even really considered the gagging/choking being an issue so shocked myself at how much it alarmed me... I was thinking "oh my gosh I can't do this!" but I've calmed down a bit. I think in all honesty I was a bit like a bull in a china shop and possibly took the "offer them what you're having" a bit too literally. I hadn't even thought about skins, toast crusts, stringy cauliflower etc... but I think we're starting to get the hang of it. Sweet potato, porridge mixed with bm and fruit, yoghurt and tikka masala are solid favourites at the moment, avocado not so much! :D

Shall I stick to softer foods for the next week or two, and then maybe try some of the harder ones then? For e.g. he seemed to struggle a bit with watermelon today. Although he could gum it it meant there were quite small pieces in his mouth cue lots of coughing and spluttering.

I've also seen rice cakes mentioned a lot but surely that's a bit too crunchy?

Does anyone have any links or suggestions for where to look for portion sizes for babies first starting out? I've seen pics and videos but lots of the babies look 8/9mo + and seasoned BLWs!

Leo isn't gaining weight well so I'm keen to get some high calorie foods into him as well!

Last question - spoon feeding. How does it work with porridge and yoghurt etc? I'm loading the spoon and encouraging him to use it but he needs a bit of help to coordinate it. Is that OK? Or should I avoid foods that need a spoon?

Thank you all so much! X
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Re: Talk to me about gagging...

Postby Marrow » 28 Jul 2016, 07:44

Rice cakes sort of dissolve if you suck them enough. They are also great as a substrate for the thing you actually want to eat - hummus, soft cheese, (avocado), etc - lick the topping off and refill.

With mushy stuff, do whatever feels right. We avoided loaded spoons for ages because of the mess. But it's summer, so you could do dinner in a nappy and straight into the bath if you want. Or not. Some kids get the hang of spoons quickly; some get the food off the spoon into their hands then stuff their hands in their mouth; some faceplant the spoon; some don't like messy food. If he clearly wants what is on the spoon but is getting frustrated, then by all means help a bit. But, for your sake, try not to make it into too much of a habit - one of the payoffs of BLW is that your kid will be able to eat their own meal with minimal intervention (leaving you to eat yours while it's hot) earlier than they would if he wasn't learning how already.

It really does sound like you are doing fine. Trust your instincts - you know what's working and what's not so much better than a load of ransoms on the Internet! If what we say chimes with you, great. And if it doesn't, then we're probably wrong!
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Re: Talk to me about gagging...

Postby emzit » 28 Jul 2016, 10:05

I wouldn't worry about portion sizes - he will most likely be all over the place with his eating as he gets used into it and one day he'll eat loads and the next almost nothing. That's one of the main benefits of blw and eating what you eat - just give him a bit of yours and if he eats office him some more. If he doesn't, you haven't wasted any food.
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Re: Talk to me about gagging...

Postby KristyAndLeo » 28 Jul 2016, 12:04

Rice cakes and avocado for lunch it is then.

He went crazy over porridge and banana this morning. It was messy as he got the hang of the spoon which is fine by me but like you said I don't want to be constantly loading the spoon so tomorrow I'm going to make porridge fingers instead. He ate loads though, then fed off me and has now been asleep for 2.5h which is completely unheard of so he must have been stuffed.

I think I'm just going to take things slow and not get myself stressed out. If it's a gaggy food I'll maybe park it for a few days and then try again. Tonight I'm going to see how he gets on with chicken and pasta!

Thank you so much for being so helpful!
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