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What to do when you hear your baby gagging: A guide for parents

What to do when you hear your baby gagging: A guide for parents


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What to do when you hear your baby gagging: A guide for parents

As a parent, the safety of your little one is the top priority. That is exactly why when we hear that horrible sound of a baby gagging, it can send us into a whirlwind of worry and panic.

But take a deep breath, because knowing how to handle this situation calmly and effectively can make all the difference to you, and your bub. Read on for a friendly guide of what to do when your baby is gagging. And, by reading this blog… spoiler alert… you will see that gagging is actually good!


1. Stay Calm

The first thing to remember is to stay calm. As a mum of three, I know how easy this is to say! But the fact is that our children pick up on our emotions, so staying calm is so important. It is natural to feel alarmed, but here and now, panicking just won't help. I often remind parents to “fake it until you make it”. The act of pretending to be calm is a great way to start. Using your voice in a calm way will be very reassuring for your little one.


2. Assess the situation

Take a moment to observe your baby's behaviour.

If your baby is gagging, it is likely that their eyes will be watering, cheeks will be red. You might see their tongue thrusting forward in their mouth, and you will hear that nasty, memorable gagging sound.

If they are making this gagging sound, this is wonderful. The act of gagging is actually helping your baby is learn how to eat. Plus, making that gagging sound, and even coughing, means that their body is actively trying to clear the obstruction. Gagging is not choking. In other words- hearing a sound is good.


Let’s repeat that to really let it sink in… hearing a sound is a good thing. Gagging is not choking.

I teach parents to remind themselves of this when they hear their baby gagging. Some almost use it as a bit of a mantra to help themselves stay calm.


3. Stay with your baby and encourage them

If you have ever seen a baby gag, you might have noticed that their eyes go really wide and they start looking around the room for you.

Having you nearby is very reassuring and comforting for them. So stay close, use your voice to encourage them. Saying something like “well done, great gagging!” would be perfect. If they are coughing, again, this is wonderful! Encourage them to cough the obstruction up and out.

As a friendly side note: direct supervision and being within an arms-reach of your baby/ child when they eat is vital. In fact, this is the number one thing that we can do as parents to help with choking prevention. It is absolutely key to stay with our children while they eat.


4. Avoid the “blind sweep”

A common misconception is that parents need to perform a "blind sweep" if someone is gagging on their food. A blind sweep means inserting your fingers into your baby's mouth to remove the object. However, as you can probably imagine, this can often do more harm than good, potentially pushing the object further down. You can have a bit more of a read about this, and other common choking misconceptions here on the blog.


5. Count backwards from 10

If you find it really confronting when your baby is gagging, this is a great tip to help. Counting backwards from 10 in your head will give you something to do and keep you from intervening, and give your little one a chance to recover from the gagging episode themselves.

Oh, and don’t forget to take a couple of deep breaths while you are counting!


6. Remind yourself that you have got this!

We have said that gagging is not choking.

As a parent, it is vital to know what to do in case of a choking episode. The interventions for choking are not difficult to do, and they are really successful in treating an episode! Knowing what to do and learning it in a fear- free way will give you so much confidence.

If you are looking for expert advice and more knowledge surrounding baby/toddler First Aid and Choking Sammy has some fabulous online courses to get you feeling confident. Bobbin and Bumble Customers get 10% discount using the code BOBBIN10 at check out! 

Baby First Aid Course * 

Get Confident with Choking * 

Sammy from Happy Hearts First Aid is a first aid trainer, mum of 3 and former nurse. She believes that first aid training for parents must be fear- free and confidence- building.

She delivers her signature Baby First Aid * via an online, on demand course so that parents can learn at a time that suits them from the comfort of their own home.

For parents who are particularly worried about choking, her course Get Confident with Choking * would be the best fit. This online, on demand course aims to replace choking fears with choking FACTS and arms parents with confidence so they can actually enjoy mealtimes.

You can also find Sammy on Instagram where she shares some really great tips and advice @happyheartsfirstaid

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