Babies: Is it normal for babies to gag on finger foods?

Every time I introduce finger food to my nine month old, he chokes. He is interested in table food, has demonstrated a chewing motion and is working on his pincer grasp. He doesn't have any teeth yet. Should I hold off or keep trying?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

You should continue to offer your son finger foods. It is very common for babies to gag. They do it frequently, much to parent's dismay.

There is a difference between gagging and choking. Choking is when they actually get food caught in their windpipe and they can't breath. Gagging is what commonly happens as a baby learns to eat solids. Food gets caught as they try to swallow and it triggers their gag reflect, which can cause them to spit up. Some babies have a more sensitive gag reflex then others.

What you can do to help minimize the gagging is to be selective in what you offer for finger food. Especially because your son doesn't have any teeth, you will want to choose foods that are easily gummed or dissolved in his mouth. He should be able to gum some ripe avocado, ripe banana, soft cooked pieces of apple, Cheerios, tofu cubes, cooked egg yolk, etc. You get the idea! Do a taste test yourself to be sure.

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