Parents Need to Ensure They Can Tell if Their Child is Gagging or Choking

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Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Taking care of a child and ensuring they survive and grow into a healthy adult takes a lot of time, dedication, and selflessness.

Furthermore, a parent must be able to distinguish between different emergencies their child may experience and know how to properly deal with them. As a parent, you need to be able to tell the difference between gagging and choking. Therefore, in this article, we will discuss the differences between gagging and choking, how to deal with each emergency, and when to seek medical attention. Hopefully it will make parenting just a little bit easier than it might otherwise. 

Signs of Gagging

Gagging is a reflex that is usually activated when something foreign enters the throat. The gag reflex is an important protective mechanism that helps keep objects, such as food, from entering the lungs. When something triggers the gag reflex, the soft palate (the fleshy part of the roof of your mouth) and the uvula (the small fleshy protrusion in the back of your throat) close off the opening of your windpipe. This action forces whatever is in your mouth down your esophagus and into your stomach. There are a few signs that can help you determine if your child is gagging:

  • Your child's face will turn red.
  • They may start to cough or have a hoarse voice.
  • They may try to vomit.

If your child is exhibiting any of these signs, you should encourage them to keep coughing and spitting out the object. You can also try to help dislodge the object by using a finger to push it down the back of their throat. Finally, you can also try to suction out whatever is in your child's mouth with a pediatric suction device or a turkey baster without the needle.

Signs of Choking

Choking occurs when an object lodges in the windpipe and blocks the flow of oxygen. Furthermore, they cannot speak or cry out for help when someone is choking. This is because the airway is completely blocked. There are a few signs that can help you determine if your child is choking:

  • They will have a very red face.
  • Their eyes may be glassy or bulging.
  • Their skin may start to turn blue.
  • They will be very agitated and pull at their neck.

If you notice any of these signs, it is extremely important that you act quickly and decisively in order to save your child's life:

  • Kneel behind your child and wrap your arms around them.
  • Place one hand on top of the other and place the heel of your bottom hand on your child's stomach, just below their ribs.
  • Quickly thrust inward and upward to try to dislodge the object with a jolt. You should repeat this process until the object is forced out or your child starts coughing.
  • If your child is still experiencing shortness of breath or cannot speak, call 9-1-1 to get them the medical attention they need.

Developing a Baby's Swallowing and Chewing Abilities

It is important to remember that choking and gagging are both normal developmental stages that most babies will go through. This is because a baby's swallowing and chewing abilities are not fully developed until they are about one-year-old. It is common for babies to gag on food during this time, especially if it is given too quickly.

Parents should never feel discouraged or embarrassed if their baby begins to gag while trying new foods. Furthermore, parents should only offer new foods one at a time and supervise their children while eating to help them learn how to chew properly. To develop a child's swallowing and chewing abilities further, parents should:

  • Offer a variety of textures of food, such as mashed, diced, or finely chopped.
  • Allow their children to feed themselves.
  • Encourage them to chew their food thoroughly.
  • Do not give them large pieces of food.
  • Discourage them from drinking fluids while they are eating.

If you follow these tips, you can help your child to develop healthy swallowing and chewing habits that will help keep them safe from choking and gagging. Parents should take choking and gagging very seriously because it could save their child's life. Parents need to remember that they may begin to gag on food when a baby is about one-year-old. Furthermore, parents should only offer new foods one at a time in order to ensure their children do not choke. Finally, if a parent notices their child is choking, they should act quickly and decisively to dislodge the object. By following these tips, parents can help ensure their child's safety.