The pharyngeal reflex (or gag reflex to you and me!)
Is it strange that I was quite intrigued about Francesca’s “first gagging experience?” I was almost waiting in bemused anticipation about this reflex which has us so scared when we start weaning our little ones. Don’t get me wrong; the first time around with Jack, I was petrified! I was convinced that every gagging experience would lead to choking and always had my phone near me in case I had to call the emergency services!
This time around however, it was very different. I knew there would be gagging but I wasn’t worried at all. I knew a lot more about this amazing automatic reaction this time around. Gagging is basically a “retching” motion which pushes food away from the airway if it is too big to swallow – how cool is that?! Our little people have their own ability to stop choking.
So, when the inevitable happened, I sat there fascinated, calm and definitely not worried. There was coughing, spluttering , retching and even tears running down her face so in the scheme of things, it was relatively dramatic!! But, then as I sat watching, her gag reflex kicked in and out popped the culprit – a piece of pasta which was destined to not make it into Francesca’s cute (and very round) tummy. As quickly as it went into her mouth, it came just as speedily – sliding along her tongue and out onto the tray of her highchair. Then, without giving it a second thought, in it went again with a lot more vigour! It seems I was wrong, that bit of pasta WAS destined for her cute little tummy after all.
For many of us, weaning brings about many fears, and I bet that choking is up there at the top! Research has shown that babies are no more likely to choke if they are fed via the traditional puree method than if they are fed using baby-led weaning and it is important to note that a choking incident is very rare. However, our Happy Tums recommendation is always to attend a first aid course which will cover all aspects of caring for your baby should you ever find yourself in a situation where administering first aid is needed, whether this be food related or anything else.
To conclude, Francesca is taking to her food with gusto! She is trying new flavours each day and hasn’t yet spat anything out in horror (she hasn’t tried brussel sprouts yet though!!) and I am so proud of how she has learnt to use her hands to transfer food to her mouth with such ease after only a few weeks! Her co-ordination is astounding after such a short period of time and her pincer grip is well, gripping!
Each day this journey into a world of food amazes me and I hope that we at Happy Tums can continue to support you and share with you your own journeys during this special time.