It’s completely normal for new parents to feel concerned when their baby gags while using a pacifier or certain nipple bottles. This gag reflex is the body’s way of protecting them from swallowing something they’re not ready for.
Babies often gag when they explore their own hands and fingers. If you’re having trouble with the pacifier, it could be because it’s the wrong size for their tiny mouth. Make sure to double-check for the right fit.
Typically, over the first few months, babies get used to using pacifiers and their gag reflex weakens. Eventually, they learn to accept pacifiers, nipples, and different types of food without any issues.
However, there may be times when your baby continues to gag and doesn’t keep the pacifier in their mouth, regardless of your efforts.
Rest assured that these gags are a normal part of your baby’s development.
What Is Gagging?
Gagging is a remarkable reflex that we all possess, serving as a protective mechanism to prevent choking. It’s important to note that gagging and choking are not the same thing. When something touches the back of our throat, our body automatically triggers the gag reflex.
This reflex causes our throat muscles to contract, pushing the object back and preventing choking. It’s a natural defense mechanism that plays a vital role in keeping us alive.
In the early months of a baby’s life, their gag reflex is highly sensitive and is triggered when something approaches the middle of their tongue. As babies grow and develop, their gag reflex becomes less sensitive. Around 7-12 months old, the trigger point for the gag reflex shifts towards the back of the tongue, closer to the throat. At this stage, babies can tolerate larger pieces of food.
The gag reflex remains active throughout life. If anything such as food, toy parts, or even bugs reaches the back of your baby’s tongue, roof of the mouth, or throat, the gag reflex will kick in and expel the object.
It’s reassuring to know that the gag reflex is a natural and necessary function that helps protect our little ones.
In our recent article, we covered the topic of Why Do Babies Scratch Surfaces?
How Does Gagging Differ From Choking?
It’s common for parents to mistake gagging and choking as the same thing, but they’re actually quite different. Choking occurs when an object obstructs the airway, making it difficult or impossible for the baby to breathe. On the other hand, gagging is a reflex that prevents choking.
If your baby is choking, there are some signs you should look out for. Difficulty breathing is a clear indication that there’s an obstruction in your baby’s air passage. They may also have a terrified look and a change in skin colour, appearing cyanotic due to a lack of oxygen. High-pitched sounds and signs of needing more air are also common.
Terrified Look and Change of Skin Colour
It’s worth noting that a choking baby may not be able to cry or make any sound, as their body is focused on trying to breathe.
If you suspect that your baby is choking, it’s important to provide them with choking first aid immediately. This involves performing back blows and chest thrusts while calling 9-1-1 or local emergency services.
Consider taking an infant CPR class to learn proper techniques for dealing with choking incidents. This knowledge can be invaluable in case of an emergency.
You may also be interested in our this article Why Do Toddlers Spin In Circles? Reasons
Why My Baby Gags on Pacifier: Top 5 Causes
To effectively address the issue, it is important to understand the main causes behind why your baby may gag on pacifiers, even if they are accustomed to using them. Here are the top 5 reasons:
Reason 1: The Nipple is Too Long
Babies have sensitive gag reflexes, so if the pacifier’s nipple is longer than what they can handle, it can trigger their reflexes excessively. It is crucial to choose a pacifier with a nipple size appropriate for your baby’s age.
- 0 Months: Preemie
- Level 1 or Newborn: 0 to 3 months
- Level 2 or Little Babies: 3 to 6 months
- Level 3: 6 months and older
- Level 4: 9 months and older
Reason 2: Unpleasant Taste or Smell
The taste or smell of the pacifier can also play a role. Babies have their own individual preferences, so if the pacifier has a flavour or aroma that they dislike, it can lead to gagging. Consider their preferences when selecting a pacifier.
Reason 3: Shape and Texture
Babies can be particular about the shape and texture of the pacifier. Some may prefer a certain form or a softer/firmer nipple. If the pacifier’s texture or shape doesn’t appeal to your baby, it can cause gagging. Experiment with different options to find what suits your baby.
Reason 4: Strong Gag Reflex
Contrary to popular belief, babies do have gag reflexes as a protective mechanism. Some babies have more sensitive gag reflexes than others, making them more prone to gagging with even slight stimulation. Choose a pacifier that considers your baby’s sensitivity.
Reason 5: Baby’s Preference
It could simply be that your baby no longer likes the pacifier. As they grow and develop better coping skills, they may naturally outgrow their reliance on pacifiers. If your baby is showing signs of disinterest as they approach one year old, it may be due to their maturing preferences.
Understanding these causes can help you address the issue and find a suitable solution for your baby’s comfort and well-being.
There’s no need to panic if your baby gags on a pacifier – it’s actually quite common! It could be that the pacifier doesn’t meet their preferences or they’re simply tired of using it.
With these tips, you’ll have the necessary information to ensure your baby uses pacifiers correctly. Rest assured, this concern will be resolved in no time!
Read Next: Is G FUEL Bad For Kid Potential Risk