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Choking and gagging on food

  • 0-1 Years
  • Feeding and eating
  • Staying safe and accident prevention
Baby boy sitting in highchair holding a carrot stick to his mouth with a plate of mixed vegetables in front of him.

The differences between gagging and choking

Gagging and choking can easily be confused. Gagging is a natural reflex when a baby is weaning and is far more common than choking. These are the differences:

Gagging is the automatic body function that prevents your baby from choking. Gagging is loud. Your baby's skin may look a little red, however this may be harder to see on darker skin. Gagging is normal when introducing solids. Your baby is learning how much food they can chew and swallow at one time.

Choking is when something is stuck in your baby's throat and stopping them from breathing. Choking is quiet. Your baby may start turning blue. If your baby has darker skin, their fingernails, gums or inside their lips may start turning blue. 

What to do if your baby is choking

If you think your baby is choking and cannot breathe properly: 

    • call for help
    • take them out of the high chair
    • support their chest and chin with one hand and using the heel of your hand give 5 sharp blows between the shoulder blades.  

Video by St John Ambulance

Read our guidance on what to do if your child or young person is choking.

Last reviewed: 1 November, 2023


Who can help

If you have any questions or concerns about weaning or introducing solid foods to your baby, a health professional in our team will be able to offer advice and support.

You can Call Us on 0300 029 50 50 or Text Us on 07520 649887 to start a conversation.

Open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm (excluding bank holidays).

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