22 Jun Choking and Babyled Weaning
You may be terrified of feeding your baby finger foods: “Won’t my baby choke if I feed him “real” food?” Yet many proponents of Babyled Weaning (BLW) believe babies are actually at less risk of choking if they feed themselves rather than being spoon-fed by a parent. This is because the baby is in full control. In fact a new study “A Baby-led to Eating Solids & Risk of Choking” found that Babyled Weaners do not choke more often than babies who start solids with purees.
Another benefit of BLW and introducing full foods sooner, is that the gag reflex is further forward in the mouth and it moves back as baby ages. So the gag reflex effectively keeps larger food pieces near the front of the mouth, only allowing very well-chewed foods to the back to be swallowed.
Yet choking is a risk, no matter how you start solids. The #1 food Babyled Weaning babes choke on is full apples. Choking occurs when the air tube is blocked. If your baby bites off a perfectly air-tube shaped piece of hard food, or you offer them this size of food, it is possible they will choke. In which case they cannot get in any oxygen. They will not make any gagging or noises and will turn blue. This is why it’s important to always watch your baby while they eat, and take an infant CPR class.
Well it’s possible for your baby to choke on food (or toys/coins/may other objects!), there is a lot you can do to prevent choking.
Tips to prevent choking with babyled weaning
- Never put a piece of food into your baby’s mouth. If you put food into their mouth, it may immediately fall to the back, without baby having a chance to control it with their tongue and chew it. Let them feed themselves.
- Don’t sit baby on your lap to eat. You can’t see them if they aren’t facing you! Use a proper high chair. I preferred not to buckle the high chair (unless there’s a risk of your baby falling or climbing out). That way you can get them out quickly, if needed.
- Don’t offer food in choking-hazard size: avoid round items like raw hard pieces of vegetables and fruit. Instead, either grate them or slice them thinly. Whole grapes or cherries, whole nuts, berries, cherry tomatoes and wieners should also be sliced, so they are not a round shape. Your baby’s airpipe is about the width of one of their finger nails, so it’s important to serve thinly sliced foods.
Offer soft foods. Steam fruits and veggies and test the foods to make sure you can mash them with your tongue on the roof of your mouth. If the food is harder, make sure it’s in a safe shape. It’s much easier to cough up a piece of soft food, than hard food.
- Make sure baby is sitting upright, and not in a reclining position. And not running around with food, once they can walk.
- Don’t have toys to play with or the TV on during meals, as a distracted baby is more likely to choke.
Want to know more about practicing Babyled Weaning? Grab my Top 7 Starter Foods for Babyled Weaning below: