Baby gags on solids: Is it too soon to start?

At my son's four month checkup, the doctor encouraged me to start my baby on cereal twice a day in addition to breastmilk. I have been trying to do this for two weeks now. He screams and cries and pushes it all out of his mouth. I read that if a baby still has the gag reflex, he is not yet ready for solids. Am I pushing something on him that he is not ready for, or does it just take time and practice?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

It sounds like your little guy just isn't ready for solid foods yet. Don't feel that it is necessary to force your baby to eat cereal. You can return to exclusive breastfeeding for the time being. Your baby does not seem ready developmentally, and he definitely is not interested. Allow your baby to control his feeds

A young baby, not yet ready for solid foods, will gag when they are offered. The tongue-thrust reflex, which is present in his early months of life, helps to protect him from choking. This reflex begins to diminish between four and six months of age, also the time when new teeth may begin to erupt, he begins to sit up well, and he becomes interested in putting things in his mouth.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the addition of solid foods, beginning around the age of four to six months. This is a general recommendation, and many babies are still totally breastfed, or receiving only about 10 percent of their daily nutrition from solid foods in their diet, at the age of nine months.

Since each baby is unique, it is best to watch your baby. He may be ready for solids to be slowly added to his diet when:

  • he begins to sit up well -- unsupported
  • he is learning to pick up small items
  • he is becoming very interested in what you are eating and drinking

Solid foods can help to meet a baby's increasing needs for iron and protein in his diet, but breastmilk should remain the priority during the second half of a baby's first year of life, meeting approximately 75 percent of his nutritional needs.

I would recommend trying solids again in about three or four weeks, or sooner if your baby is showing signs of readiness. Your little guy will let you know when he is interested. Best wishes!

Like This? Read These!

- Breastfeeding Support Message Board
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