Gagging in Babies: Understanding the Natural Reflex Day 1: Gagging in Babies

Gagging in Babies: Understanding the Natural Reflex

When a baby starts exploring and eating solid food, gagging is a common occurrence, but it can be a scary experience for parents and caregivers. Know that gagging is a common reflex that almost all babies experience when they transition to solid foods. 

Let’s look at what gagging is, why babies do it, and how to manage it.

What Is Gagging? Why Does It Happen?

Gagging is a protective reflex that occurs when food triggers the back of the throat where the airway is. This reflex helps to bring food up and stop the swallowing reflex, protecting the baby from choking (choking is very dangerous).

While gagging seems scary, it's a natural response that helps babies move food from the back of the throat to the front of their mouth, protecting them from choking (which is when food gets lodged in the throat).

Babies gag for a variety of reasons. Maybe they’re experiencing a texture or size of food they aren’t used to. Or they’re having a hard time moving food around in their mouth. 

Babies tend to gag more at the start of their solid food journey. With time, babies develop good oral motor skills and are exposed to various solid foods. So they outgrow gagging after a couple of months.

Common Signs of Gagging

  • Watery eyes
  • Red face from straining to push the food out
  • Open mouth with the tongue thrust outside
  • Some type of sound like retching, crying, or coughing being made from the mouth
  • Gagging can sometimes lead to vomiting

These are all normal responses and are usually more traumatic for parents than the baby!


Gagging is a natural part of learning how to eat solid foods. It helps babies to develop their oral motor skills. 

What to Do If Your Baby Is Gagging?

1.First, stay calm and do not panic. The baby's body is designed to protect itself, and gagging is a part of that natural protective mechanism.

 2.Second, do NOT put your fingers in their mouth. This can actually push the food back and make the situation more dangerous.

 3.Third, remember that babies are equipped with a natural ability (gagging is reflexive) to handle the food that’s making them gag.

Tomorrow, we will look at choking, which is different from gagging. Choking is very dangerous and care can be taken to make sure babies don’t choke on solid food initially.