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Aren’t you worried about choking?


Since we are trying to let Henry feed himself, I have had several people ask if I am worried about choking. This is a topic that Daddy has been very curious about too.

Many people think smooth purees are easier for babies to swallow, and that larger pieces pose a choking hazard. I have learned, however, that the risk of choking may actually be lower with Baby-Led Weaning. 

Regardless of whether your baby is spoon-fed or self-fed, remember to use common sense and follow a few basic rules.

Henry never eats by himself. He loves hanging out at the table with Mommy and Daddy.
  1. Henry is never left to eat alone. At least one adult is always at the table with him while eating. This is not only to watch out for potential choking, but because mealtimes are family times. Meals are a great opportunity to bond and share over food. Eating together also means that Henry can watch and learn from Daddy and me about how to maneuver new foods.
  2. Henry always eats food sitting upright at the table in his high chair. Sitting up helps his gag reflex to work so that any food he is not ready to swallow can fall forward for him to continue chewing or spit out.
  3. Henry only receives shapes and sizes of food that work for him. Certain foods are a choking hazard so we will avoid those until he is ready. For example, nuts, grapes, olives, cherry tomatoes, and fruit with pits could block his airway. When we start to introduce these foods later, nuts can be ground and added to baked goods, grapes can be squished until flat, and olives and cherry tomatoes can be cut into quarters. We will also need to remove the pits from fruits such as peaches and cherries.
  4. Only Henry puts food into his mouth. Sometimes I will hold a slippery food such as avocado or lemon for Henry, but it is up to him to reach forward and try to eat it. This allows him to take the time to work through each mouthful before adding more. The gag reflex can also be triggered by having too much food in his mouth.
Only Henry puts food in his mouth. He knows best when he is ready for another bite.
It’s also a good idea to learn about CPR for infants. The University of Washington has useful information guides, videos and phone apps to help you prepare just in case of an emergency. Your local Red Cross also is a great resource for first aid and CPR courses.

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