The Gagging Thing…

So sorry about the lack of info on this subject, I’m having a think about how best to write the advice ‘Just chill out for god’s sake. They gag. It’s what they do while they are learning,’ in a more supportive way…

29 Responses to “The Gagging Thing…”

  1. Skip says:

    Hahaha that’s about perfect. How about “leave them to it, be impressed when they spit out that massive chunk of food then grimace as they attempt to eat it again….”

  2. Verity Antonia says:

    Wow, very helpful. I have a 10 month old who gags and vomits everytime she eats anything lumpy or textured. She is my 3rd child so I’m not new to this. She doesn’t like being spoon fed. I was hoping for some helpful advice on this subject, but treating it as a joke or a parent over-reacting is not helpful at all.

    • Aitch says:

      Is it possible that a google search got you here and you aren’t doing BLW? What we mean by gagging isn’t about eating lumpy or textured food, it’s about eating food in finger-sized pieces that the babies self-feed with, from the very beginning at 6 months. So a lot of babies gag on these pieces of food to begin with, and the advice to chill out about it is good, because it can be somewhat tense-making when it first happens but you soon learn to watch and wait a bit longer.
      That said, there will always be babies who are gaggier than others, to the point of vomiting, and if their parents find they do better on purees then that’s the smart thing to do.
      Where it’s awkward for you by the sounds of things is that you have spoon fed (is this right) and even that makes her vomit… how does she do when she self-feeds, is it the same?

  3. Juliette says:

    I found this when I was looking for more info on gagging/choking after a slightly scary incident last week two weeks into BLW which has been making me seriously wonder about going the traditional puree route instead. (No sound, but still breathing and lasted a good hour, not like the numerous gagging incidents we have been through, was wondering throughout if I’d have to put the stuff I’d learnt on my first aid course into action).

    As you realise, telling somebody who is scared not to be is not actually likely to stop them being scared. Personally, what I would find useful are a collection of videos of what gagging looks like (rather than having to trawl through lots of blw videos looking for gagging) and info on relative safety of different foods for a 6 month old, rather than just ‘everything apart from nuts, grapes and cherry tomatoes is ok’. I need to ease myself back in gently!

    • Aitch says:

      I’ll have a look for some videos, sure, (when i get a sec… tricky with two jobs and two kids) but as for posting on the relative safety of different foods, that’s pretty dependent on the child, I’d have thought. Both of mine gagged, sometimes quite spectacularly and with vom, but weren’t much for choking. I can really only remember one time, and that was with apple at about eight months (iirc) so ‘nuts, grapes and cherry toms’ was fine for me. although there’s nothing wrong with grapes and cherry toms that cutting them in half won’t solve. actually, now that i think about it, could you maybe link to some of the clips you found, then i can post them up? that would be great.

  4. PerpetualMadness says:

    If you’re feeling fragile then a good rule of thumb is that, if you can crush something against the roof of your mouth with your Tongue, then it’s a good starter food (well steamed carrots, roasted root veg,…). Gagging is noisy, choking is silent so you will know the difference. I would avoid raw carrot and raw apple but steamed apple wedges are yummy and easy to handle. And if you think your lo is holding on to something that they’re struggling with then a sip of water will help them swallow or, more usually, spit it out.

  5. ches says:

    Hi Juliette,

    The “choking” risks with BLW are different to those with more traditional weaning. It’s definitely not anything except round things in the early days. Developmentally-appropriate foods are very soft and stick/baton-shaped (over-cooked broccoli, carrot, roast veg, watermelon) while they’re still learning that what they’re holding is food. Once they’ve got the gist of it being food, you can move onto soft things that they can shovel in by the fistful – spaghetti, stodgy porridge, rice, etc.

    As for choking, I found this: but I’m not sure I’d call that choking. It lasted less than 2 minutes, baby was breathing, and not in the least distressed.

    Now for gagging… the only video I could find was this one: It’s a puree fed baby who isn’t interested. Mom shovels in mashed peas when he’s not looking and he gags a treat.

  6. Jess says:

    @Verity Antonia….Healthy babies with healthy appetites can come from parents who worry a little about their babies, whether it be their first or their third…or whether they BLW’s or are spoon fed first then let have finger foods.
    I find if your baby is in any way different than the normal baby websites like this are not usually the most supportive.
    Research into why some babies gag more or less than others is not looked into here…therefore the support for ‘newbies’ who have a baby with a sensitive gag reflex for whatever reason is not great.
    My 2nd baby, for example, well it turned out she had a palate problem & it was more like torture to leave her to her own devices when it came to feeding herself solids…I let my 1st baby wean herself so knew quite a bit on the subject of BLW…but found out on my 2nd that places like this didn’t have a clue when it came to support for reasons why my baby was gagging so much (it looked painful for her, turned out it was, but ‘quit stressing & let her learn’ was the feedback I got from BLW’ers)
    So, don’t take it to heart when you see pages like this…it’s obviously not your world…not such a bad thing!

    • Aitch says:

      Do you know what, I think this is totally fair, Jess. I really must think about that post more, now that BLW is becoming a more mainstream thing (in the olden days, the only people who ever saw that post were definitely BLW’ers, for starters, and sufficiently ‘early adopter-y for that to be a helpful and amusing post – I know because I still have the acres of original comments). It’s not your job to educate, of course, but listen, if you have any research into why some babies gag more than others, I’d be very keen to have a look at it, and if you were able to explain a bit more about your baby’s palate problems that would also be good to refer back to. Hope all’s well with your baby now, thanks for posting.

  7. Alison Davison says:

    Hi there,
    I am Mum to my first child who is aged 6 months. I have heard lots of good things about BLW and have been making good progress for the past fortnight. My lo did gag a little bit but nothing very concerning until earlier this week when eating some sweet potatoe. She was red in the face with tears streaming and gagged until she was sick. The following day I tried again with some butternut squash and she began gagging at the sight of it to the point where she was sick without even touching the food. I am sorry if I sound over protective but I wonder if this type of bad experience is likely to have a negative affect on the weaning process. I would welcome any advice as I am new at this!

  8. Aitch says:

    Gosh, I have never heard of a child gagging on nothing at all… it she teething, could she possibly be drooling more than usual? If you think it was the food upsetting her, I’d just jack it in for a few days… they don’t have long memories. Perhaps foods of the consistency of sweet potato and squash are more gaggy for your baby, have you tried broccoli and carrot and more boring veg like that?

  9. Aitch says:

    (Hey, and don’t ever apologise for sounding over-protective… we’re ALL protective of our children, that’s our JOB. ;D)

  10. Shye says:

    I don’t really know what to say. I too would probably forego food for a few days, enjoy extra cuddles and then start afresh. There is no harm in waiting, believe me! (My 2nd pretty much refused food until he was 23 months old).then maybe both of you will approach it without stress.

  11. BigFlower says:

    Sounds stressful!! I would also go witht he having a few days off and then try something completey different in texture (even something sloppy like yoghurt etc on a loaded spoon) to give yourselves a break and a complete change? Good luck.

  12. CloverGirl says:

    Poor both of you.
    My Lo had a big gag on some bread early on and I have to admit I’ve avoided it since. She (now 9 months) actually had toast for breakfast today for the first time since the episode! I’d do what the other’s have said and give it a few days to get your nerves back in order and then try again, perhaps with something completely different that you knows she has handled well in the past. She will get over it (and so will you).

  13. Claire says:

    My son was a big gagger but not quite to the point of sick. Lots of children do this though so whilst its scary it is within the realms of “normal”.

    I would say avoid that type of textured food & maybe go for juicy instead? A nice ripe pear perhaps.

  14. Alice says:

    My DS had huge problems with gagging, being sick, I truly empathise! It wasn’t until the Osteopath we were seeing, had a look in his mouth when he was around 10 mths, and explained that his gag reflex was the furthest forward he had ever seen at that age. It has got better with time and persevering with the BLW approach, while trying to be relaxed about it, which has definitely not always been easy! He is now 19 months old and he eats (not a lot) well, with no real gagging anymore. He does still struggle when he has a cold at nighttime when the excess snot running down his throat can cause him to gag, and coughing coupled with this always leads to vomiting.
    We took things very slowly with weaning when it was clear he was struggling, but in my honest opinion it has been well worth it, not that there was an alternative!

  15. lara jane says:

    We tried implementing BLW from 6 months with baby number two and it has not been a success.

    She is almost 13 months now and is just starting to show a true interest in eating solids, whereas up to this point she would play with it but never attempt to self-feed. We haven’t pushed her but now I fear that we should’ve done more to get her going earlier on. She gags then throws up everything we offer. Cooked veggies, avocado, banana, anything. She is more eager every day and becomes super excited when she sees us eating so we keep sharing but I feel like she’s never going to get past this to where she can enjoy foods! Suggestions??

    For the record, our other child is a 13-year-old boy so I have seen it all and very few things make me fearful or grossed out at this point. ;)

    • Michelle says:

      This sounds exactly like DS10 months. He’s not interested in anything purée or spoon. He’s only just started chewing on, but not successfully, because the tiniest speck of food makes him gag. I tell him it’s ok and sometimes he doesn’t follow thru with a vomit, but other times it all comes out. I try him with something every day. He’ll get it eventually, right?
      BTW he is bub #3 & never had any problems with the other 2boys.

      • Aitch says:

        He will, you know it. Poor kid, I wonder if all you can do really is minimise the upset to him? It can’t be fun for him. Are there some foods that seem to be better than others, do you think?

  16. KB says:

    Perhaps you could do some research on sensitive gag reflex and update this page. Admittedly, I found this via a google search, however, we started out blw when we started our daughter on food 4 moths ago.

    The truth is, many babies gag. However other babies, like mine, gag and projectile vomit the moment a bit of solid food hits their tongue.

    We have been blesses to have a very easy baby thus far, so the food trouble has become quite a stressor. Food is so incredibly important to me and until I found other (more helpful) explaining gag reflex, I was feeling like a failure when it came to feeding my daughter. She vomits with every food she ingests that’s not a purée.

    So thanks for the wealth of information here. It’s good to know that you’re basically calling me an idiot for worrying about why my daughter can’t eat at 10 months when many others can.

    It’s web pages like this that leave parents with a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to more alternative methods (bed sharing, cd’ing, blw, extended bfing, ap, ep) of parenting.

    Thanks for the support on my journey to feed my child. Cheers!

    • Aitch says:

      Okay, now be fair here. I’m not calling anyone an idiot if their child can’t eat without gagging… I’m suggesting in a jokey way that normal gagging is part of the process of BLW. As it happens I do think I could re-visit this post because while 99.9 per cent read it in the spirit intended it does appear to have upset one other person (do read the comments) who was also brought here via google. So it is on my to-do list, however I simply do not have the time at the moment. This is a free website, I don’t get paid to write it, the costs come out of my own pocket. And do you know what, I am normally very good about letting these snippy posts about my general lack of perfection go, because I can see that they are merely a reflection of someone else’s frustration, but today, when I have spent HOURS on FB trying to help people out with BLW, I’m not in the mood to. If you would like to do some research on sensitive gag reflex so that I can use it to update this page, I would be MORE than grateful, but right now I barely have time to keep up with the work commitments that pay my way in the world. Any and all help gratefully received on this matter.

  17. Maggie says:

    Hiya, I just read the last comment and I thought I would send a word of encouragement. I really appreciate the website you have here, it’s a wealth of information and seems like a great community too.

    My 7 month old has a sensitive gag/vomit reflex (who knows how it ranks compared to other babies though?) I’ve gotten to be at peace with him vomiting what seems to be two meals worth of breastmilk at one time. (For instance, he couldn’t figure out what to do with the high flow of breastmilk when I weaned him off a nipple shield at 3ish months. He would immediately vomit after finishing a meal. Then I would have to feed him again because he was hungry).

    So now that we are starting solids, it’s back to large scale vomits again! And you know what, I know it’s a good thing. I’m an emergency physician relatively early in my career. One of the most horrifying things I have ever seen is a blue child that had choked on a cheeto while sitting in a clinic waiting room. For reference, he was about 4-5 years old. He was successfully resuscitated (he turned pink and started breathing once the cheeto piece was knocked out). We found out afterward from mom that this child tends to scarf down all foods at a really rapid pace and often doesn’t stop to completely chew them. I don’t have any scientific evidence that helping infants “respect” and understand the gag reflex will prevent catastrophe later. Nevertheless, it makes intuitive sense to me. If my child grows up learning that large solids cannot be shoved immediately to the back of his throat, I will consider that as one small step in making sure he is safe as a toddler or even as an adult!

    I’d be interested in helping you write this page, I do agree that people who stumble upon this one page before learning about the rest of the BLW website would probably interpret it incorrectly. Please let me know if you would like me to work on it.

  18. Addie says:

    I hope you can find some time to update this page. Gagging to the point of vomiting can be quite distressing for both child and parent and it is important to take concerns seriously.

    Baby lead weaning (or self feeding) can be a recommended approach for children with sensitive gag reflex because if they can feel the texture with their hand first this can help. Also spoon feeding can put the food to far back in the mouth triggering the gag reflex.

    My recommendation for concerned parents would be to see their family doctor to discuss if the level of gagging is normal and if required get a referral to a speech therapist / occupational therapist that can help with gag reflex issues.

    Some good pages I have found:

  19. Emma wheeler says:

    Hey, i found this very useful!! im on my third baby now and have blw my other two aswell with no hassle at all, obv us who use blw no its realy common sence, you dont give a baby a chop n expect them not to choke aha, but we also no all babies are different, im having a slight trouble with my third tho, my second had a sensitive gag reflex as well as reflux wich was a nightmare till about 6mths ago and shes almost three now!! but my third was an early weaner and not jst that, this lil madam shot her first teeth out at 10weeks old too!! Shes now 6mths old with two bottom and two top teeth so as you can imagine the easiest of food have made her gag but its because shes biting massive pieces where as the average baby wouldnt, any tips on how to go about this? she refuses to be spoon fed now so purees is not an option, and her pincher grasp isnt all that great right now, she even with the usual carrot sticks shes biting so much that im foverever fishing it out and fighting with her to eat smaller pieces :/

  20. Laura says:

    Haha good for you Aitch. I’ve been doing BLW after finding your site (and buying the book) since my lo was 5 1/2 months. So he is now 6 months 1 week and I’ve been trying foods (not religiously I might add) for 3 weeks. Not every meal, not every day before 6 months just to get him used to holding different textures & things that taste different when it lands in his mouth. Only the past week has he attempted to pick up the food from his tray himself. He does however have a sensitive gag reflex, so when bits of food break off on his tongue (melon, broccoli, cheese, rice cake) he gags and gags and we usually end up with a vomiting incident of the food plus his milk feed. However, I naturally adopted the relaxed attitude you mention, and clean him up, end the feeding session there, and try again the next day (or wait a day depending on how bad the vom was). I do think the point of BLW is to be relaxed. However long it takes them to “get it” – I was force fed in all manner of ways as a child and have so many issues with food it’s ridiculous, and not something I want for my own child!

  21. Maggie says:

    Hi, just a followup to my previous comment (my child has/had a sensitive gag reflex and we were having large scale vomits when we first started BLW.) Well, the good news is that he is now 10 months old and has a great pincer grasp. Now that I cut his food up into smaller pieces, he is able to really work on them and chew/mash them in his mouth. We’re not having those huge vomits anymore! Well, sometimes he gets so excited about fruit that he keeps shoving it into his mouth until there is too much and he gags. Silly kid! Anyhow, hopefully this reassures people that there is hope… you won’t be cleaning up vomit forever. I think the sensitive gag may still be there, it’s just not triggered anymore because the food is smaller. I’m really happy I’ve done BLW – my kid loves eating and it makes meal time much more enjoyable because we can all do it together.

  22. Pamela says:

    Thanks everybody for comments and the administrator for allowing a forum for them, especially the negative ones – I think I learned more from the comments than from any video or book and became more confident to trust my own instincts on how well BLW is going and how fast I should be introducing bigger foods… if the point is that “food is fun before the age of one,” then I’m just sticking to the textures that ARE actually fun – testing out BLW periodically until the kid’s ready and happy to do it. Now I’m doing mashes, chunkier than purees, but perhaps not big hard chunks yet… Mine is 6 and a half months, tried some cucumber sticks a week or so ago but he’s so active and aggressive with 2 sharp little incisors that he’s quite happy to shear off huge pieces then gags extensively to the point of tears. Not vomit but he’s never been a spitter, still obviously not a fun experience… I’m ok with a little gagging, in fact that’s what I aim for with chunky mashes (max a couple short gags a meal?). But a couple short ones is just not my kid’s style when given the opportunity for big chunks…Nevertheless I’m happy to have learned about BLW as the other extreme from purees and a goal to aim for at a safe pace…plus its really motivated me to join an infant cpr class…

    • Aitch says:

      Cheers, and yes, I couldn’t agree more regarding the comments. They’re without doubt the best resource this site has!

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