When a baby is given solid food for the first time, he will push it out with his tongue and probably gag on it a little bit. This is because until now, the baby’s tongue has been moving forward and backward to suck from a nipple. The tongue does not yet know what to do with solid food. It takes time for the tongue to learn to change it’s movement pattern. Gagging can happen because it is an unexpected and unknown texture.
There are some ways to make this transition easier.
- Encourage mouthing of toys during play. If he can’t do it by himself, help him. This gets him used to having different textures in his mouth and he learns to move his tongue around on the textures.
- Start with a thinner puree of rice cereal and then a single food puree of stage one foods.
- Don’t expect a large amount to be eaten at first. You are just getting the mouth used to it.
- Start with a rice cereal mixed with formula or breast milk. This will provide a familiar flavor.
- If there is a strong tongue thrust pushing food out, you can put the food to the side of the mouth.
- Placing food in the side of the mouth, also called the cheek pocket, helps teach the tongue to go to the side (called tongue lateralization) to get to the food.