Starting Solid Food and Choking Hazards to Look Out For

Starting solids is an exciting part of a baby’s development, but it’s normal to be feeling a little unsure or perhaps a little anxious about choking.

In this blog we are going to talk about the basics of introducing solids, preparing foods safely and ways to minimise choking.

If you think your baby is choking, please call an ambulance (000 in Australia).

The best time to start solids is when your baby is demonstrating signs of being ready at around 6 months, but not before 4 months. As babies get older, they require food for nutrients for growth and development.

Here’s my top safe eating tips and ways that you can prevent choking.

  • Setting up a safe eating environment is key.
  • Ensure the baby is sitting upright in a supportive highchair.
  • Never force young children to eat or put anything in their mouth.
  • Ensure young children sit quietly while eating, if you sit with them, this may help.
  • Where possible, introduce solids when you’re both feeling relaxed and not in a rush.

Preparation of food

Babies are traditionally introduced to solid foods with spoon feeding of puree fruit and vegetables.

Baby led weaning is an increasing popular alternative method of feeding which promotes infant self-feeding instead of conventional spoon feeding. You may choose one or the other, or a combination of both.

There is no evidence to support increased choking risk with baby led weaning, when foods are prepared safely.

Some foods need to be modified to ensure they are safe for babies. For example:

  • Round foods like sausages, grapes and cherry tomatoes should be cut half, length ways and then half again.
  • Hard foods such as carrot and apple should always be cooked, grated, peeled or mashed.
  • Avoid giving your whole nuts until they are at least five years of age. It’s best to offer smooth nut butters.

Hard, small round and/or stick solid foods should always be given with caution as they can cause choking or aspiration.

 The most common foods that are choking risk are-

  • Lollies
  • Marshmallows
  • Corn chips
  • Raw apple and carrot
  • Popcorn
  • Pieces of meat
  • Whole nuts
  • Fish with bones
  • Uncooked peas
  • Certain berries
  • Seeds, lentils and beans
  • Grapes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fruit pips and stones
  • Sausages

My final and most important tips is to educate yourself.  You’ll feel more relaxed if you learn the important difference between choking and gagging and know how to respond in a choking emergency.

It’s recommended that anyone caring for children should complete a first aid course and learn infant and child cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in case of an emergency.


This information is for education purposes only. This info is designed to support, not replace discussions with your healthcare professional.

We accept no liability for any loss of damages suffered by any person as a result of any information or advice.


Written by: Nicole Gleeson, a Paediatric Emergency Nurse and the founder of Rhythm First Aid.