When it comes to babies starting solids, bigger is actually better.
I know it’s counter intuitive. I mean, WHAT IF A PIECE BREAKS OFF?! (This will happen. A lot! Stay calm.)
This is because your baby’s windpipe is about the size of a drinking straw in diameter. For your baby to choke, the food (or object) would need to either get stuck inside that tube, or form a plug over it (this is why peanut butter is a risk). The other large pieces of food, unless inhaled forcefully, are most likely going to cause a big ole gag. And gagging—that protective reflex that moves food forward—is good. It is Mother Nature’s built-in protection. (Read more about the difference between gagging and choking.)
Baby-led Weaning Food Sizes
Food size recommendations from folks like us typically factor in two things: food sizes that are easy for babies to pick up and eat independently and food sizes that minimize the risk of choking for the given development stage. Both should be considered.
Whether you start your baby on purées or finger foods, your baby is going to gag. It’s just a matter of when. For example, Charlie, my 4-year-old gags more often than my 23-month-old twins. This is because I spoon-fed Charlie thin, textureless purées for *way* too long. His oral development is actually further behind than the babies’ in some ways. For a disturbing example, see my Stories.
And here’s what baby food companies don’t want you to know: most healthy, developing babies can and should be eating independently by 8 or 9 months old, regardless of how they started solids.1
And the single best thing you can do? Create a safe eating environment.
May the Force be With You!
- American Academy of Pediatrics, Infant Food and Feeding. Retrieved May 4, 2020.