How can I stop my baby from gagging when I feed him? Solids

iStock.com/Yasin Emir Akbas

baby with bib making funny face
iStock.com/Yasin Emir Akbas

Some babies starting solid foods seem to gag quite a bit. Here, a pediatrician and moms weigh in on how to handle and prevent gagging during feedings.

Add Lots of Liquid to Baby's Food

"It's common for babies to gag as they're learning how to eat. They have a gag reflex that protects them from food going into their airway and choking. So it's common for this to happen at the beginning. That's why we tell parents to start with liquid-y purees. Make the food thin, and gradually thicken it up as your baby tolerates it. With stage 2 and 3 baby foods, there's a little more texture and it's a little thicker. Move to it as your baby tolerates it.

"Every baby is different. I've...

"It's common for babies to gag as they're learning how to eat. They have a gag reflex that protects them from food going into their airway and choking. So it's common for this to happen at the beginning. That's why we tell parents to start with liquid-y purees. Make the food thin, and gradually thicken it up as your baby tolerates it. With stage 2 and 3 baby foods, there's a little more texture and it's a little thicker. Move to it as your baby tolerates it.

"Every baby is different. I've seen a baby at 9 months take a bite out of his mom's hamburger and also a baby at 9 months that can't tolerate stage 2 baby food yet.

"If your baby is truly gagging, even on the thinner stuff, bring it up with the pediatrician. There are some medical issues -- such as developmental delays -- that are presented with not being able to swallow correctly and coordinate the timing. If the gagging is consistent and not improving, it should definitely be brought to the doctor's attention." -- Lauren Levine, MD, pediatrician at ColumbiaDoctors and assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY

Make Chunks of Food Super Small

"Only give the baby little tiny pieces that they don't even really have to chew and very gradually work your way up to bigger pieces. Our pediatrician said food should be no bigger than [the baby's] pinkie finger because that's about the size of her esophagus (this was around 6 months old)."

Consider Seeing a Specialist

"Our son had a sensitive gag reflex and would projectile vomit almost everything that wasn't liquid! We took him to a developmental specialist that said to give him cereal every meal and work on increasing the thickness. Within a month, the gagging was completely gone. Now if he gags, it's because he stuffed too much in his mouth."

Watch Your Child Closely

"Gagging is natural when learning to eat. Preventing choking is what you need to learn -- and that means paying close attention to your child and what he can handle. Don't rush it."

Give Your Baby Time

"I believe in waiting to give solids until babies are ready to feed themselves with food off your plate."

Take Precautions

"Gagging always worried me. I was so afraid of my kids choking! After I took an infant and child CPR class, I felt better about it though. I felt more confident I could help in an actual choking emergency."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.