Episode #109: Overcoming The Fear Of Gagging & Choking In Baby-Led-Weaning

4-16 months

Jun 8, 2020

Getting started with baby led weaning can feel super daunting, and the #1 fear is that your sweet baby will gag or choke on food. To help you overcome this fear I’ve invited Edwena Kennedy of My Little Eater to share a FREE resource to help you overcome these fears.

Edwena is a registered pediatric dietitian and mom of two boys from Halifax, Nova Scotia who LOVES to help parents raise healthy little eaters with confidence! She created My Little Eater and her online courses as a simple, straightforward way for parents to get the information, guidance and support they need to take their child along the entire feeding journey without the overwhelm or confusion. She’s helped thousands of family find the confidence they were looking for and help turn them into their own feeding experts!

GET THE FREE GUIDE: Overcoming The Fear Of Gagging & Choking 

What is Baby Led Weaning?

Your baby is leading the way in the whole feeding process. The baby is self-feeding. Parents are not using spoons to coax them to eat or trying to get bites into baby’s mouth. Babies are also eating whole, finger shaped foods. This concept begins around 6 months of age. The process begins with soft and mushy foods. This approach is so different to how many of us were raised as starting solids!

Why does BLW scare people?

This is a new concept that is a little more intentional than popping open the jar of a baby food. This concept sounds scary to parents because it seems like babies can easily gag or choke on solids. This fear factor is the number one emotion Edwena hears from parents. Parents can be extra terrified to start finger foods if baby hasn’t started teething. How can they chew or bite if they don’t have teeth?!

Before pre-made baby food was developed, babies were simply were already mashed whole foods, or parents would softly chew a piece of food and hand it to their baby.

Purees in the 1920s started the industrial led feeding concept. Doctors thought babies as young as 3-4 months needed solids for nutrition, which we now know isn’t the case! We have become so accustomed to the concept of purees for babies since then!

Babies Don’t Have To Start With Purees

“But my baby doesn’t have teeth!”  >> But let me ask YOU….do YOU chew with all of your teeth? Nope! We’re chewing with our molars to grind and chew our food. These molars aren’t emerging until 2 years old!!! So we aren’t going to wait until 2 years of age to start solids.

Baby teeth sit right under the gum-line, and if you feel inside your baby’s mouth you will find how hard their gums actually are! There is a lot of power in their gums!

If you’re starting with safe textures, your baby will not have any issue with starting solids through the Baby Led Weaning way.

Gagging Will Happen On Purees & BLW

Gagging is your baby’s body’s way of protecting themselves from choking. It will happen on purees or on whole, solid foods. If you’re doing feeding safely, the risk of choking is the same from purees and baby led weaning.

Know the difference and educate yourself on gagging & choking through Edwena’s guide here!

What Are “Safe” Textures?

You want to offer something that is squish-able! Take your thumb and your index finger and apply pressure to the food. Can you smush it? It’s the right texture for baby. If you can also offer baby significant chunks of the food so they can safely hold it, while you supervise them start to notice how they are getting food in and learn to take bites.

If you wait too long to offer your baby whole foods the risk of gagging and choking actually increases because they aren’t used to this!

What About Milk?

Formula and breastmilk is so important! Between 6-10 months your baby has been so used to new textures and foods that by the time they hit 10-12 months they are used to eating normal foods. Which means that when baby turns one your baby is not struggling with only using milk as the main source of nutrition.

The practice your baby gets from 6-10 months will set them up for success for the 3 meals a day by 12 months old.


The biggest barrier to starting baby led weaning is the fear of gagging and choking. Knowing we want to advance your baby, Edwena’s free guide will help you overcome the fear that your baby will choke on new foods. Inside this new guide for your family you will learn:

Step 1: Understand Gagging (it’s very different from choking!) As A Safety Mechanism

Step 2: Know What Gagging Looks Like

Step 3: How To Desensitize The Gag Reflex

Step 4: Understand How To Respond To Choking



  1. princy says:

    very well written and explained. thank you !

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