Your top infant feeding safety questions–answered!

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Feeding your infant can be an exciting time for the whole family. With these top infant feeding questions answered, you’ll feel more confident for the first bite.

Is it safe to give my baby solids as a first food?

Yes. A few years ago the age recommendation on feeding infants changed from four to six months of age to six months of age. With this change, the infant is likely to be more developmentally appropriate to eat actual solid foods (slices of avocado, steak, etc.) versus typical baby-food purees. Solid foods are safe when they’re served in mash-able or gum-able texture in finger-shaped slices that baby can control and self-feed. This means they can enjoy the foods of the family as long as they’re served in a safe way. Not sure if baby is ready? Check out this post on starting solids.

Are there particular foods that may cause choking?

Yes. Regardless of the feeding method you choose for your baby, choking is possible. Research suggests that no one feeding method is riskier than another yet certain foods that were usually the culprit in choking incidents. Raw fruits and vegetables, particularly apples and those that break off into small pieces, increase the potential risk for choking. This does not mean you can’t include these foods, it means you just need to tweak the size or texture. For example, cooked apples or applesauce work well for early safe textures for baby. Steaming hard fruits and veggies can keep many otherwise risky textures safer. It’s also very important to let baby control foods that are in his or her mouth. Never put your fingers in your little one’s mouth when feeding.

What do I do if my baby gags?

Stay calm. Your baby will gag. Gagging is a normal reflex that helps baby control swallowing or push food to the front of the mouth to spit out if he’s not ready for it. We often watch our new eaters cough, hack, or sputter with an overwhelming sense of fear. And, it is scary at first. When baby figures out how to maneuver food in his or her mouth it’ll happen less and less. Choking, on the other hand, is life threatening and happens with food (or any substance) blocks baby’s airway. Baby may make wheezing sounds or no sounds at all. It’s recommended that all parents learn the basics of first aid for choking and CPR.

Where should I feed my baby?

Baby should start his or her first foods experience at the family table, safely secured in a high-chair. As tempting as it may be told hold your sweet little one on your lap for their first bite, it’s not a safe position. When baby is ready to enjoy a meal with the family, start by buckling him or her into a high chair with foot support. Baby will be sitting up in a safe position and not distracted by wiggling feet. When baby is reclined, he or she is at greater risk for choking so that means no snacks or meals in a car seat, reclined bouncer, or swing.

Now that you’ve got your safety steps in place, it’s time to plan for baby’s first meal with the family. Bon appetit!

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