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If your baby gags, it's a sign that their reflexes are doing their job. They'll often make a hacking, retching sound as their bodies push the offending food forward. Gagging is a normal part of the learning process and nothing to be alarmed about. So, when you hear that unmistakable noise or see them going pink, try to stay calm and resist the urge to immediately swoop in.
On the other hand, choking is a serious matter. Choking is what happens when a foreign object or piece of food gets stuck in the airway, causing your baby to struggle to breathe. If you hear silence or see your baby turning pale and panicking, it's time to spring into action. We'll get to that in a bit.
The key to baby feeding safety is minimising choking hazards. Remember that babies are curious little beings, exploring the world through their mouths. Here are some practical tips to help you reduce the risk of choking:
Always, always, always keep an eye on your little one during mealtime. Sometimes, you'll find them attempting to stuff an entire handful of cheerios into their mouth, leaving you with your heart in your throat. But hey, that's why you're there, right?
Always have them seated upright in their high chair with their legs at 90 degree angle. Never let them walk around while eating.
Mealtime should be free from distractions. That means no TV, smartphones, or toys competing for your baby's attention. Create a focused, safe and relaxed eating environment.
Ever felt the strength of your baby's bite when they chomp down on your finger? It's impressive, right? That natural chomping ability means the risk of choking is low, but it's always better to be safe. Make sure all food pass these tests:
Here are 5 simple food tests to reduce the risk of choking
Can you squish the food between your thumb and index finger? If not, give it a good cook or roast. Think of carrots, potatoes, zucchini, and pasta.
Is the food in a small circular shape? If yes, slice or squish it. Slice grapes and cherry tomatoes into quarters, slice blueberries in half or squish them.
Does it easily slide out of your little one's fingers? If so, consider coating things like avocado in chia seeds, breadcrumbs, nut meal, etc.
Does it form a gooey ball in their mouth? If yes, adjust the texture. Toast bread and water down nut butters.
For items that are too hard or round (looking at you, hard candy and popcorn `), simply don’t serve it.
As much as we'd like to shield our bubs from every danger, accidents can happen. So, what should you do if your baby ever encounters a choking hazard? First things first, take a deep breath. Panic won't help anyone.
Follow these steps:
Determine if your baby is indeed choking. If they are coughing forcefully, let them continue coughing. It's a sign that they might be able to clear the obstruction themselves.
If you haven't already, call 000. Time is of the essence, and you may need someone to assist while you perform first aid.
If your baby is struggling to breathe and can't cough effectively, try back blows. Place your baby face down on your forearm, supporting their head. Give firm back blows between their shoulder blades using the heel of your hand.
If back blows don't work, you can try chest thrusts. Position your baby face-up on your forearm, head supported. Give chest thrusts just below the nipple line.
Don't attempt to scoop out the object with your fingers. This can push the object further down.
If back blows and chest thrusts are ineffective, it's time for CPR. If you don't know CPR, you should absolutely consider taking a course.
We hope you never have to use these steps, but knowledge is your best friend in times of crisis. You've got this!
Remember, baby feeding is an adventure for both you and your little one. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and enjoy every messy, giggly, and sometimes nerve-wracking moment. Your journey is filled with love, learning, and, of course, a whole lot of baby food flinging.
Here's to safe, happy feeding times with your mini me’s! 🍼👶
My baby is ready for solids - do I puree feed? BLW? A combo of the two? Which is better for Bub? Which is better for me? Arghh help!
An article to reassure you and give you the confidence whichever mode of feeding you choose for your little one as they embark on their solids adventure!