Many different theories exist regarding the best time to switch your baby to solid foods.  Some experts agree that you should let your baby dictate when he or she is ready for solid foods, while others think it’s best to stick to a strict schedule. Different studies back up the reasoning behind each theory, so you should do your research and determine which you like best based on your own personal preference. Once you’ve decided when to give your baby solid foods, you’ll still face challenges at the dinner table. Some mothers report that their baby tends to gag on whatever food they try to feed him. Gagging is obviously scary for a new mom because it seems as though the baby is choking. Gagging is a natural response in all humans. When something touches the back of our throat, our body instinctively pushes it back out so we don’t choke. Babies have that same reflex, but they are not yet used to it and there is no way of telling when it might present itself.

If your baby is having trouble eating because his gag reflex is sensitive, you might have switched to solid foods too early. The gagging is caused by the sensation of food at the back of the throat, which you can imagine is pretty shocking for a baby who has never eaten solid foods. If you try feeding him or her solids for a week without success, that’s a good indication that you should stick with formula for a little while longer. If you know it’s time, try making sure your baby is relaxed and comfortable before eating. That way, the reflex might be quieted enough for your baby to realize that eating is not a dangerous activity. There are also certain dietary changes you can make if your baby has a gagging issue, so you should speak with your doctor about pureed foods and other items that will make the switch to solid foods smoother.

If your baby gags while he or she is eating, you’ll probably be worried. As long as you know he or she is not choking though, gagging is not something you should worry about. Only if it interferes with your baby’s eating should you have a pediatrician look into the problem. Otherwise, the solution is just a matter of giving your baby time to get used to solids.

Source: Therese O’Flaherty et al: Calculating and Preparing a Pureed-by-Gastronomy Tube Diet for Pediatric Patients with Retching and Gagging Postfundoplication. Infant, Child and Adolescent Nutrition Volume 3 Issue 6 pp. 361-364 December 2011

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