Avoid Baby Choking When Feeding: All You Need to Know about Mealtime Safety

As parents, it’s important to stay aware of the potential risks your child might face during meal times. One of the most common hazards is baby choking– when a piece of food or other object becomes stuck in their airways or when the milk flow is too fast and prevents them from breathing. If not handled quickly and correctly, this can be dangerous for babies, so parents need to know what to look for and how to respond.

It’s important always to supervise your little one during mealtimes and make sure that all pieces of food are small enough for them to swallow without choking. When trying baby-led weaning, it is essential to know the difference between gagging and choking. Choking should always be taken seriously – if your child cannot cough or make sounds while eating, get help immediately! Being prepared will give you peace of mind when feeding your infant – and may even save their life!

Why is my baby choking while breastfeeding?

When breastfeeding your baby, babies choke if they drink too quickly and the milk flow is too fast. This can occur because of an oversupply milk production or a forceful letdown. A forceful letdown occurs when the breast milk oversupply flows at a much higher speed than usual. Babies may have difficulty adjusting to this sudden change in flow and can start to choke if they cannot swallow fast enough.


As a mother, you may notice your baby pulling away from the breast or clamping down on your nipple during breastfeeding. If this happens, try slowing down the milk flow by expressing some of it with a breast pump before feeding your baby. This will help them adjust how fast the milk releases and allow them to swallow more easily. If your baby is still consistently choking while breastfeeding, seek medical help as soon as possible.

What is Breastfeeding Let Down

Breastfeeding letdown, also known as milk ejection reflex (MER), is an important part of the breastfeeding process. It’s when your milk begins to flow out of your breasts and into your baby’s mouth while nursing. When you feel a tingling sensation or warmth in your breasts, your letdown has started.

It’s important to be aware of your letdown when nursing and ensure you are not letting it down too quickly. If you have excess milk, you will have a faster milk flow. A forceful ejection can cause your baby to choke during a feeding session, so try to take breaks between each breastfeed or switch breasts mid-feeding if your baby seems to be struggling. You can also try to change their feeding position to have the baby upright.

What do I do if my baby chokes on milk?

If your baby chokes on milk, the most important thing is to stay calm and move them into a more upright position. Then, gently tap their back while in an upright position to help dislodge any food or liquid that has become stuck in their airway.

If this doesn’t work, seek medical help right away. It’s also important to check with your doctor or healthcare provider if this often happens. There may be underlying causes, such as an overactive letdown reflex or other medical conditions, that need to be addressed. Your baby may also have a hyper gag reflex.

Reasons for Forceful Let Down

There are several potential reasons why a mother may experience a forceful letdown or an excess milk supply during breastfeeding. One of the most common causes is hormone levels, which can cause the body to produce too much milk at once. Physical conditions such as pregnancy, postpartum hormones, and certain medications can also contribute to this issue.

Stress can also be a factor for mothers experiencing a forceful letdown. If you feel anxious during the breastfeeding process, this can cause your body to produce more milk and lead to an oversupply. To help reduce stress levels, try taking deep breaths and focusing on relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga before feeding your baby. This can help you stay calm and prevent a forceful letdown.

In addition, the proper latching techniques can be an important factor in preventing your baby from choking during breastfeeding. Make sure you have a good latch before starting the feed, and ask for assistance if needed. This will ensure that your baby can control the milk flow and swallow easily.

Dealing with Overactive Let Down

Having an overactive letdown can be a difficult and uncomfortable experience for mothers and young babies. It can cause your baby to choke during feeding sessions, making breastfeeding more challenging than it needs to be. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent or reduce the occurrence of overactive letdowns.

To start, ensure you are taking breaks between feeds and expressing some milk with a pump before starting each feed. This will help regulate the milk flow and reduce the risk of your baby coughing and choking. However, you want to avoid unnecessary pumping that could cause you to become engorged and cause a forceful let down.

pumping to release milk

Additionally, practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or yoga before feeding to help keep stress levels low. Your baby is latched properly is also important to prevent choking, so ask for help if needed.

When should I call for help?

It is important to call for help if your baby is choking during a feeding session. Several signs indicate your baby may be choking, such as coughing or gagging, difficulty breathing, turning blue in the face, or being unresponsive. If you notice any of these signs, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Gagging and choking are two distinct reflexes, which can often be confused or mistaken for one another. Gagging is a primitive reflex that helps protect the airway from foreign objects, such as food, that have been put in the mouth and inhaled. It is characterized by an involuntary spasm of the throat muscles, which forces the object out of the mouth. Choking, on the other hand, is a more serious condition where the airway is blocked and obstructs breathing.

It is important to stay calm when dealing with choking or gagging, as panicking can worsen the situation. If your baby is choking, move them into an upright position and gently tap their back until the blockage is removed, or they can swallow the food. If there is no improvement, call for help immediately.

FAQs about Baby Choking During Feeding

1. Why is my baby choking on formula from the bottle?

Baby choking from bottle feeding can be caused by several factors, including the size of the nipple, the flow rate of the formula, or drinking too quickly. To prevent choking, ensure you are using a slow-flow nipple and that your baby is taking their time to drink. If choking frequently occurs during bottle feeding, consult the baby’s pediatrician to make sure there is not an underlying cause.

2. How do I prevent my baby from choking on milk when breastfeeding?

If breastfeeding is causing your baby to choke due to a forceful letdown or oversupply of milk, try taking breaks between feeds and expressing some milk with a pump beforehand. Additionally, ensure that you have a good latch before starting a feed and practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing or yoga before feeding sessions if needed. If your baby continues to choke when feeding from the bottle despite these measures being taken, then contact your doctor for further advice.

3. How does oversupply affect babies?

An oversupply of milk can be uncomfortable for the baby and the mother, as it can lead to gassiness, excessive spitting up, fussy eating, and clogged ducts. It can also cause your baby to choke during feedings because they cannot regulate the flow of milk, and they get too much milk. To prevent this from happening, try expressing some breast milk before each feeding session and taking regular breaks between feeds.


Having a baby choke while breastfeeding can be a frightening experience for both parents and babies. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of baby choking during feeding, as well as how to prevent it from happening. Prevent and reduce the chances of your baby choking during mealtime by taking breaks between feeds, expressing milk beforehand, and practicing relaxation techniques before each feed.

However, if you notice any signs or symptoms suggesting they may be in distress while feeding, seek medical attention immediately. Check out some first aid videos for handling a baby choking to feel more prepared. By being proactive about preventing and recognizing potential issues with your little one’s health, you can ensure their safety at mealtimes.

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