Why Gagging is GOOD When You're Learning to Eat
What is holding you back from starting your baby on solid foods?
One of THE BIGGEST hesitations and objections I hear from parents over and over again is the fear of gagging and choking.
But gagging and choking are 2 totally different things. Choking is a life-threatening event that results in obstruction of the airway. But gagging is good.
Right From the Expert's Mouth!
I recently had Speech Language Pathologist and Feeding Expert Dawn Winkelmann from Spectrum Speech on my live show. She is an absolute PRO in all things related to infant feeding, and she broke it down for us why gagging is good.
Check out the video below for the full interview with Dawn and to learn everything (and more!) you ever needed to know about why gagging is an important step in learning how to eat (where you can also download my 10 Best Finger Foods for Starting Baby-Led Weaning if you want some low choking risk ideas to start your baby with self-feeding.)
Gagging is Good?
So yes... gagging is a good thing. And that is because it's an important - and necessary - step in your child learning how to eat.
Parents often MISTAKE gagging for choking and they think that one LEADS to the other, when in fact, allowing a baby to gag on food is what helps him regulate the prevention of choking.
Talking About the Tongue
In the earliest months of a baby's life, the back three-quarters of the tongue initiate a gag reflex. That's because baby's shouldn't have solid foods or objects back there yet, as they're not yet ready to eat.
But as a baby ages and by the time that baby is 9 months old, it's only the back 1/3 of the tongue now that initiates the gag reflex. This movement backwards is freeing up space now where the baby can start to experiment with and play with solid foods and different textures to start initiating the swallow process associated with self-feeding.
Want to Watch a Gag?
As Dawn covers in our interview, gagging may be a good thing...but it's certainly not easy to watch the first few times you see your baby struggling with a food.
Here's a quick video of one of my quadruplets - Baby Charlie - gagging on a piece of pasta. In this video he is about 6 months old and just started eating solid foods.
Note how he recovers by himself, without intervention, and then easily goes back to eating the same food.
So if you need help getting over your fear of gagging, check out the full interview with Dawn and learn why Gagging is Good!
For more great infant feeding info, check out Dawn Winkelmann's website over at Spectrum Speech.