A gag reflex is something we are all born with – and is a strong automatic reflex that helps to prevent choking. Until the age of 4 to 6 months your baby has a reflex that causes them to push their tongue forward whenever the back of the throat is stimulated. The tongue reflex is the reason why early feeding is a challenge with almost all babies, and therefore gagging and pushing out of first foods is so common.
Babies are naturally inquisitive and will often be seeing with their fingers in their mouth that inevitably leads to gagging. Gagging in babies is so natural that they will often gag when feeding from a bottle if the flow is too quick. Another common reason that babies gag is when they have too much food in their mouth.
What to do?
For bottle fed babies, make sure that you have the right size nipple for your baby as a heavy flow beyond what your baby can manage will promote gagging. Feeding times must be relaxed and not be measured against the clock. Feeding your baby in a hurry often means that you each spoonful is more than they can manage in their tiny mouths, which will lead to gagging. The quantity of food is also important as if you force your baby to eat more than they naturally can, they will gag and will most certainly bring up their meal.
Understanding why babies gag is important as this allows you to manage your baby and the feeding process with greater success. However the initial introduction of solids to your baby, is likely to be characterised by a few gagging sessions. Therefore make sure that your baby is ready for solids, which is usually between the ages of 4 to 6 months.
Orchard Foods tip for first introduction of solids:
Start with a tiny amount of food either on a spoon or your clean finger. You want this first taste to be really small taster so that you baby can explore the texture and taste in their mouth without it immediately getting to the back of their throat.
If your baby pushes this out with their tongue it does not mean that they don’t like it, they more than likely just trying to explore and figure out what this new way of eating is.
After a few attempts your baby will start using his tongue more actively to move food around and to the back of the mouth. If your baby is still having a problem swallowing solids after a week, they are probably not eady for solids yet.
Always keep an eye on your baby during meal times as they start with and progress on solid meals. Choking is a hazard more so when your baby starts with wholefoods and things like raisins, grapes, sliced hot dogs, olives, nuts and popcorn are introduced. Never leave the room while your baby is eating or if you have to make sure that they are supervised.
Gaging during meals times decreases the more your baby adjusts to solids and different textures. It is important to ensure that your baby gets a variety of textures as they are introduced to different food groups, as this will prevent gagging from textures, as they grow older. The Orchard foods range is carefully prepared to ensure that at each stage of development your baby gets the right food texture to develop better eating reflexes and appreciation.
If your baby continuous to gag or choke on pureed food, please consult your doctor.