19 answers

6 YO Choked on Chip and Now Won't Eat - HELP!!


I have a question/worry about my 6 yo DD that I'm hoping to get help for. About a month ago, she choked on a chip. She had gotten up from the table and was messing around in the family room when she started to choke. DH saw her and quickly cleared it out of her (he hit her back then picked her up and did the heimlich). Since then, DD has basically been refusing to eat anything but soft foods - mostly desserts like popsicles and ice cream. When we eat, she mostly acts like she's eating and just moves the food around on her plate. She'll sit at the table for more than an hour with a full plate of food. More times than I can tell you, we'll finish eating and an hour or two later I'll ask what she has in her mouth and it will still be a bite of food from our meal (cheeseburger, banana, etc.). She will often chew food and then spit it out in a napkin. Uggg!!! I actually think she's starting to lose weight. Should I get her on pediasure? If so, how much? I don't want her to fill up on it and not eat but I want her to get her nutrition. Have you heard of this/gone through this? At this point, we've talked and talked about it but we haven't been fighting with her about you HAVE to eat. Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. THANKS!

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Start with basics until she is comfortable again. Soups, mash potatoes, and perhaps even mash up stuff like steamed brocolli with cheese. Perhaps, if you can feed her very soft foods like shredded roasted chicken or pot roast with veggies like potatoes and carrots. (You know how the carrots get real soft in pot roast... yummy!) Perhaps she'll come around quicker to eating normal again. It sound like this experience really scared her. Good luck!

My husband choked on something while he was with my daughter about 2 years ago (she was 11)and she still gets extremely upset if someone appears to be choking. I can only imagine how traumitizing it would be for a child to actually go through that.

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You might consider having her throat checked to make sure she didn't scrape anything. I choked on a chip as a kid and (seems like now) that it felt weird for weeks. Not hurt so much, just felt swollen and blocked. Turns out I had scraped up my soft palate and throat pretty badly--it was a tortilla chip that wedged in sideways.. She is certainly old enough to communicate her discomfort, but if it doesn't hurt she may be having a hard time finding the words--and she could certainly still be feeling a bit traumatized by the whole thing. Kids certainly seem to stop eating for a number of seemingly mild reasons.

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I am so glad i found this my 9 yr old daughter is now doing the same things you have written about!!!!!!! She had chocked on a piece of hard candy.... She was fine for a couple months then all of sudden i noticed the spitting food in garbage and in napkins!!!!! Then now it a hour at table and just moves her food around on plate to look like she is eating!!!!! She now chews her food but she chews for like 2 minutes before swallowing! i ask her why now is it bothering her and not right after she chocked and she told me that she just thought one day of how from her chocking she could not be here:(:( Which breaks my heart....... We have tried talking to her but i think it is time to see a doctor because she is now losing weight..... i have her on ensure but do not want her to depend on that Please let me know how things worked out with ur case..... Thank you:)

six is a great age to teach proper nutrition and health. show her the parmid chart, teach proper hygiene, learn about exercise and how to take care of your body. Also explain to her that we need to stay at the table and chew our food very well. She got scared when she choaked but you and dad were there to help her. I would also check with the pedi and make sure there isnt anything lodged or scratched in her throat. I got the strings of a cellery stalk tangled around the hangy down thing in my throat when i was a kid and to this day i very carefully chew celery!!! i would give her pedi sure i think its one a day the package will let you know. also give her things like apples and tell her that it gets soft once she chews it enough...eventually telling her all foods get soft if they are chewed enough. good luck sorry your little one is having trouble.

Have you checked to see if her throat is swollen? Swollen tonsils, allergies or cold could be causing her throat discomfort, which might have even aggravated / caused the chip situation last week. I would ask her if her throat is sore, maybe shine a light and see if anything looks red. Then take her to the Pedi.

If her throat isn't sore and it's just a matter of her being scared of choking again... then I wouldn't stress too much about it. Eventually, she'll want to eat other foods. Pushing or worrying about it, might cause her more anxiety and make her dig her heels in even more about not eating anything that's not soft. I can understand why she's scared... just give her some time to get past the trauma. :)

As long as she's eating something - bananas, yogurt, strawberries, green beans and other soft foods - I would just give her time - even up to a month, as long as she's eating something. And be sure to check her throat for swelling or soreness. It's that time of year again. :)

Good luck!

I was going to a phsycologist who once had a case like yours. He said he used math to help the child realize how often we breath verses choking, because it is not something that happens a lot to one's self, Compared to breathing. Well, at least for this child, math seemed to put things in perspective and then he began to eat again. If this doesn't get better soon, I would suggest council. I hope things work out for you.

Until she is confident with eating again - and she will be - make sure she takes a daily childrens multi-vitamin, give her at least 1 pedisure each day depending on what she has / has not eaten.

Include yogurt - kids brands - into her diet and oatmeal (if she will eat it); you can mix fruit into both of these.

There are plenty of fruits she can eat that are softer. What about pasta - include this as well.

Help her reestablish her eating confidence by including softer foods into her diet. Don't give her a regular serving - give her smaller servings. Remember, parenting has to have flexibility in it as well as everything else and what works with one child does not necessarily work for another.

If you continue to make an issue of her eating and forcing her to eat when she's scared to do so you will only help in developing eating issues for her that she will battle for years.

Wow, sounds like she was pretty traumatized by the choking. Is there a counselor she can talk to?they are trained to help kids who've been traumatized. I'd check with the pedi or even the nearest elementary school. If the school counselor can't help, he/she should at least have a suggestion. In addition, might try super itty bitty bites and have ample water to wash it down and encourage 2 swallows per bite. You've probably already tried that, but just in case you haven't... You could also try blending/chopping her food to make it softer and more manageable...

Hi J..
Poor thing. She probably is still scared to death to swallow- or she could still have a sore throat from the chip- most likely it is trauma
I would not fuss or fight with her. Offer her the soft foods but supplement with everything else you can think of- jello, shakes, malts, yogart, ice cream, mashed potato, puddings etc- and you may even have to resort to babyfood fruits
Pedisure ofcourse- but I would not make a big deal of this- let her recover in her own time- she will eventually get over it and eat normally again- altho she may never eat a chip again in her life- but oh well- if she does not eat at meal time, do not make her sit aT the table until she does- this just reminds her of her trauma....just keep lots of puddings, jello, pedisure and other things I mentioned available to her and even offer her these at meal time instead of your selected meals.....
If she continues to lose weight then I would take her t the dr. by the time school starts she may have recovered enough to eat maybe jelly sandwiches for her lunch box.
Let her deal with this trauma without making a really big deal in the family over it. It is hard I know, but she will be fine in her own time.
Good luck and blessings

Not to be over dramatic or an alarmist, but it sounds like it was VERY tramatic for her and she made need some professional help. I would get her to your pediatrician and have her talk this out with a professional. This could lead to early anarexia.
Something somewhat similar happened to me in my early 20's. I was eating a candy bar and it tasted like dishwashing detergent. It was a year when all kinds of food was being poisoned in the stores. I freaked out and felt sick. I had a brand new baby and a 2 year old at the time and I was afraid that I would die and they'd be left without a mommy. I slowly decided that most of the stuff I was eating tasted funny, so I didn't eat much and I began to loose weight. My husband noticed it, made me talk about it and then get some help. My doctor simply said..."if you eat something and it MIGHT be poisoned, then yes, you might die. BUT, if you don't eat...you will definately die! this scared me back into eating.
I was an aldult and didn't realize how extreme my brain was taking this.
I would give her pediasure, but that's just to help her have nutrician - you need to go to the sorce and fix this.
Best of luck,

My husband choked on something while he was with my daughter about 2 years ago (she was 11)and she still gets extremely upset if someone appears to be choking. I can only imagine how traumitizing it would be for a child to actually go through that.

Couple things to try:

can she talk to a doctor or nurse or paramedic friend and have them talk to her about choking, and reassure her that she is fine, and by being careful, she can still go back to eating healthy foods her body needs?

could she talk to a counselor or someone who knows about art therapy. I recently saw a segment on the news about kids in New Orleans doing drawings about Hurricane Katrina, and speaking to a counselor about them. Many of the kids in New Orleans are still terrified when it storms, and the art therapy is helping.

I think it's time to have someone else help, since you have talked and talked about it....so eating doesn't become a big power struggle in your home.

If she gets hungry enough she will eat. But please, do not allow her to eat popsicles and ice cream, all you are doing is rewarding her for not eating. You may need to teach/re-teach her how to chew her food and NOT get up and play around while eating. And yes, you can start her on pediasure, but be careful, we don't want her to think that pediasure is a substitute for food-real food. Remember, if she does not eat a solid meal do not reward her with dessert.

Hi J.,
I suspect your DD is so frightened that it could happen again that she is afraid to try to eat solids. Remind her that she safely ate solids for years, never choked like that before. It was an accident, just like falling off your bike, you get back on and continue learning. Accidents and failure are part of the learning process. One doesnt stop learning to use scissors the first time they make a mistake or cut more than they meant to. I would avoid introducing the pediasure so that it does not become a crutch. Remind her that when you and daddy eat with her at the table she will not be alone and she will chew her food well and it will be so smooth that it will be easy to swallow. Many babies choke on food until they learn to chew properly. She is a big girl with strong teeth and the understanding to chew her food well. It was only an accident and with better attention to chewing she will again enjoy her food. HTH. =)

I can only imagine that choking terrified her. It also probably made her more aware of the seemingly innocent things that can hurt her. I would try fixing something she loves (that isn't very soft) and cutting it into small bites. Let her know the importance of her nutrition. She needs to be enticed to eat, but if you play into her fears by only giving her the soft food, it may only get worse. You can start with something like past or toast with Jelly. Toast gets soft with the Jelly, but is more crunchy than regular bread. Try some chewy things too. Maybe look up eating and choking on the net. Let her read with you about choking hazards and how to avoid it by eating smaller bites and chewing thoroughly. Eventually she will eat normally again. Try not to make a huge deal out of it. I would fix something for a meal (that is within reason as far as texture goes, not as soft as she likes) and let whatever it is be the only option for breakfast,lunch, or dinner. If she doesn't eat fine...when she gets hungry enough she will. You are not going to starve or deprive her. If she sees that this is a way to get attention and special soft foods (mostly treats from what I've read)...she may quickly learn to use the knowledge to manipulate you.

Hi! I am so sorry to hear about your DD experience. I bet it was very scary for her. It could be a combo of things, the choking part being scary enough, but then having Daddy hit her and pick her up (if he reacted like I would have, it would not have been in a calm collective way) could have frightend her.
I would sit her down and discuss the situation, from beginning to end. How playing with food in our mouth is dangerous, and thats why she choked, (but if she sits at the table, its less likely to happen) choking is scary, how does she feel about it? Daddy was glad he was there to help, it scared him to see you choking, did he scare you by helping you?

And then ask her why shes not eating. Hopefully you can calm her fears by explaining what happend.

I did this at age 5 with candy, didnt touch candy for a long time! But it was for 2 reasons, the first I assocaited candy with choking, 2nd I assocaited the candy and choking with my dad picking me up in a frantic state tipping me upside down over a sink and hitting my back (at years old I thought it was very hard, but he probably wasn't hitting me as hard as I thought)
It wasn't until my parents did what I suggested here, that I even wanted to try candy again.

I hope this helps, or gives you some ideas. Best of luck!

Oh gosh, I can totally relate to this. I actually had a noodle slide down my windpipe, causing me to choke. While it was simple and pretty non-traumatic at the time, it gave me a fear of choking for many years after. I would take a bite of food and chew, but when it came time to swallow I would have a mini-freak-out inside my head. It was as if I had forgotten how to chew and swallow. I was over-thinking things -- and I was an adult. I can only imagine how your 6 year old must feel.

I would say to take it very easy with her. Let her eat soups, avocado and mashed potatoes for a while. Then start introducing more substance. Let her know it is ok to spit things out if she feels she bit off too much. Show her how to do it discreetly into a napkin. Also show her that she can swallow easier by washing the food down with a sip of water.

I know that you just want her to eat and get over it, but I think you and she will both feel better if you acknowledge how hard it was on her, and help her find ways to cope. Before you know it, she'll have her confidence back and be eating normally again.

I actually did this as a young child. I didn't eat for the better part of a month. My mom told me i had choice, I could eat or we were going to the doctor so he can help us.

She made the wateriest scrambled eggs and we both cried through that meal but it worked. All of my food for awhile was soft and mashed potato consistency and slowly she added back the regular foods.

But with the smoothie craze etc, you could probably do it easier. I would get some protein powder from GNC or Whole Foods and some good tasting V-Fusion juice (each serving has a serving of fruit and vegetables.) and combine the two with some milk and make her some healthy milkshakes - Get a flavor she likes like strawberry or chocolate etc.

I do suggest if your budget can afford that you go to a counselor with her to help her get over the fear. I still struggle with swallowing pills -that stems from those episodes.

Also be sure that she is sitting for her meals and snacks, because if it happens again, which mine did, you kind of start all over again.

Hope that helps.

Start with basics until she is comfortable again. Soups, mash potatoes, and perhaps even mash up stuff like steamed brocolli with cheese. Perhaps, if you can feed her very soft foods like shredded roasted chicken or pot roast with veggies like potatoes and carrots. (You know how the carrots get real soft in pot roast... yummy!) Perhaps she'll come around quicker to eating normal again. It sound like this experience really scared her. Good luck!

I would sit her down and let her know that you know that she is afraid to choke again. Explain that choking is a very traumatic experience. This validates her feelings. Let her know that is was very scary and you can understand why she wouldn't want to go through it again. Let her know that you have thought long and hard on how to help her overcome her fear of eating. Search online and let her read the safeties for not choking. ie. not running with food in mouth, not chewing food properly, talking while eating. Then let her know that until she feels comfortable eating regular bite size pieces of food, you or she can cut up the food into baby size bites. Explain that her fear of choking comes from not wanting to die and that if she doesn't eat properly she can get very sick and die. Thus perhaps you can help her move forward from this. I have choked when I was 5 and it is very scary. I remember it to this day as vivid as if it happened yesterday. I still won't eat gobstoppers or hard round candies cuz of it. Hope this helps you get through this. Very hard and yes, I would beef up her nutrition in other ways such as vitamins & pediasure if she'll drink it. Steam veggies till soft and let her get nutrients that way. Just get creative, I have a 3 & 4 year old and due to my choking incident, I tend to be a little protective about food sizes. I always slice fuits like pears and apples into wafer thin slices like oranges rather than into square chunks. Sometimes I smear peanut butter on the apple slice. Kids love it and I don't have to worry about them choking. I cook veggies with beef broth. just throw in brocoli, onion, carrots, potatoes, asparugus, corm, peas, green beans and put on low in crock pot. Coupel hours later, spoon onto plate. Kids devour it at our house. Good luck.

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