14 answers

My Son Starts Coughing and Then Vomits While Eating

Can anyone help me? My son is 3 and occasionally has trouble while eating. While chewing, he gets this look on his face and then inevitably starts coughing and then vomits. We have had an endoscopy done and they said is was behavioral; that there were no food allergies and no anatomy issues. We are now seeing a speech therapist who specializes in Pediatric swallowing and hopefully that will help. It doesn't matter what the food - it can be something he's eaten 1000 times before with no problem and then all of a sudden...
I am waiting for a miracle to happen where someone can say "Oh yeah, we went through this same thing - here's what to do..." Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I can't bear to have this keep happening.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Just a guess, but it sounds like he might be having some kind of gag reflex probably, which might be psycological (was he sick or did he almost choke before this began?). I have a friend who cannot swallow pills no matter how small they are - she has to grind them up into a powder and ingest it with a liquid because the second a pill hits the back of her tongue, she gags.

More Answers

I taught a 5-6 yr old with this problem who would also occasionally do it at home. He was a very small boy, pale, and only would eat "white" things (cheese, white bread, etc). His doctors also said it was behavioral and thought that the feeling of a full stomach bothered him. I'm not sure how much intervention he really got, but by the middle of the school year he did not display any problem other than still being picky when eating - but he did eat a bit more. It was almost as though he had just grown out of it.
Has your son recently started school or had some other change in his schedule/life? Perhaps it's stress? Good luck - I know this can be upsetting -but you both will get through it.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi M.-
My son (now 4) had a similar issue beginning around the age of 2. We had him evaluated because he was not speaking, and he was diagnosised with Sensory Integration Disorder. One of his issues was that he would vomit at the sight and smell of certain foods, you would never know what would trigger him. Talk to your speech therapist about possible sensory issues. We avoided restaurants for awhile and cooked carefully at home, with the stove fan on to avoid too much smell when cooking. His speech therapist would let him paint with veggies and make crafts with food to get him to be able to touch things without vomitting. He eventually out grew this, the only thing he still cannot deal with is green grapes for some reason! Good luck, it will get better.

2 moms found this helpful

It sounds exactly like my 3yo daughter. She had reflux as an infant and then as she matured every now and again she would vomit for no reason. We did every test in the book including allergy tests. We kept food journals and tried eliminating foods one at time. It was maddening to say the least.

She has finally been diagnosed with CVS (cyclic vomiting syndrome). It is closely related to abdominal migraines. There is usually a family history of migraines and irritable bowel syndrome on the maternal side. It goes away towards puberty, then some kids develop traditional migraines.

There is not much I can do to stop the vomiting and I never know when it's gonna happen. I wish there was something I could do to stop it but I'm glad we finally have a diagnosis. Good luck and let me know what happens.

2 moms found this helpful

My daughter did this... She would eat too much food and her body would get rid of it... There is only so much they can hold in their stomach. And if there is more then that.. they cant hold it.

Watch how much he is eating. I didnt realize how much my daughter was eating until I started measuring her food. Got to the food pyramid and you can find out how much food your child is supposed to have..and its been a few years now.. she is 13 now... I think a serving of carbs is like a 1/2 a cup. maybe even less... My daughter was eating well trying to eat more like 2 cups... and she got sick. ALOT!

Hope this helps a bit.

W. in Watkins Glen
Mom to 3 kids. (16,13 and 6)

2 moms found this helpful

I don't have an answer, just wanted to say I hope it all works itself out for your wee one. This site is really great..... these ladies are wonderful and have such insightful answers. Good luck, Sweetie!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.
I don't think I am your miracle but I do have some experiences that you may find interesting.
I have a daughter who gagged alot. She spit the bit of whatever up and went on eating. I called it gagging from very little til age 6 I told the MD at most every visit. He never seemed concerned. Finally at age 6 I got bad advice for me, because MD said oh yes that is normal. OK I never mentioned it again. Wrong!! It was normal for what, why, and who? It never bothered us, like throwing up across the table would. Oh by the way, I was the one who did that. More about that in next paragraph. By the time our daughter was 12, no food was absorbed because the vomiting(if you swallow food etc back it is gagging, if you spit it out it is vomiting) had messed up her digestive system. Hospitalized for anorexia caused from a gag reflex disorder. I congradulate your MD's and you for the treatments they are working on. She is now 18, in college and very small at 100 pounds.
Now at age 34 I started having eating issues where food got stuck in my throat. Everyone knew I was in trouble, I am guessing I got that look on my face. I was diagnosed after much distress with Achalasia. It is a disease which closes the sphincter muscle between the esphagus and the stomach. When the finally did the upper GI they found it. I had not vomited in a while when the test was done. Now what happened? I had lots of tests, and finally surgery which you want to avoid. How then do you eat? Small meals starting with warm drink. I can't drink cold even now, 33 years later. Cold drink will close the sphincter muscle, or set it into overdrive so that the whole esphagus spasms. Eating slowly and chewing much before trying to swallow. Also waiting between bites helped me not to projectile because that is not fun at 35. You become the recluse. Warm drink help now so that it does not come up. Just some thoughts and ideas and I would have loved to have known that there were others that were going through this when I started having trouble.
If you want to hear more or talk some. I would love to visit. Write
Have they told you to have him use a crazy straw and drink with eyes closed. Sometimes that helps.
K. SAHM married 38 years Adult children 37,32, and twins 18.
God bless you and

1 mom found this helpful

Was he sick before this started? Vomiting is a nasty feeling and if he had been sick and thrown up, perhaps he is afraid it will happen again, which of course is happening. And the more he worries about it the worse it will get. Make sure his food is cut small and easy to chew and then don't mention gagging or puking..ever. When he gags be calm and try to ignore it. When he pukes don't get angry, worried, or fuss. Just mater-of-factly clean up the mess. Don't tell him its ok or ask him why. Dont say anything, if he cries, let him. The less you make of it, the less he will make of it and as long as there is no medical problem it will go away.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear M.,

I once had a boy at my preschool who was the same age when he enrolled and had the same problem at home. He was seeing a therapist as well and was on medication to help him. The funny thing is it never once happened at school. We provided a hot lunch program in which there were foods on the menu that his mother said he would not touch at home. He ate everything on his plate and did not vomit once. I hate to say it but they could be right it may be behavioral. The mother at first did not believe us when we told her what he ate, so she came in and observed him via camera and could not believe her eyes. He would give her such a hard time with eating and with us he was fine. I would try to make sure things are cut into small pieces and to make sure he does not shove to much into his mouth at once. Only put small portions of food at a time. That is what we would do only a few pieces at a time and when he was finished we would give more. I have a kindergarten student who insists on bringing his own lunch because his mom says he has eating issues. Even though we have the same exact food prepared at school that he brings from home he will only eat his food. I have spoken to his mom numerous times and asked her to not send food and when he is hungry enough he will eat. She is convinced there is something wrong with him and is having him evaluated. He also is going to begin therapy soon. I must tell you that when we have cupcakes and cookies for birthday parties, and any celebrations he eats them with no problem. I know you are looking for an easy answer but I think like with every child they will always act differently for mom then they do for others. Try not to make an issue of it do not panic when it happens, don't talk about it when you serve him his food just try small portions and small pieces and maybe that will help. I am not trying to minimize the situation, however I have seen children exhibit all kinds of behavior for their moms and are angels at school (thank god). I would continue the therapy in case there is another underlying reason for the vomiting. You want to do whatever you can to help your son. Good luck to you!!

1 mom found this helpful

I'm not expert but I would thing his issue is behavioral.My own son has never been a good eater but NEVER gagged on food until he turned 3 &1/2. Since then (he's now 4)he's been gagging consistently (and to the point of almost throwing up) on things he actually likes. If it's too hot for his taste or it's a smidge too cold he has trouble. If there's 15 grains of rice in the spoon instead of 12, he gags because that's too much of a mouthful for him. If the broccoli is just not soft enough or too soft, he gags even though he loves it. I have to peel his hot-dog and he cannot eat the tenderest of baby green peas because he gags on the "skins". No oranges,tangerines, apple skins, kiwis, beans of any kind, and forget meat or fish...you get the picture. Thank God for bread, cheese,pastina soup, bananas, cheerios and milk!

So my only advice for you is to check the food temperature and degree of chewiness of whatever you serve him and see if that triggers the problem.

1 mom found this helpful

hello my daughter has had problems chewing her food she seems to choke on everything .It could be a banana or a piece of bread. Then when she vomits everything comes up she keeps vomiting .Have you found out what is wrong with your child because I recently found out she has and underbit I was wondering if this could be causeing it maybe she cant chew food right or something.....

Our daughter who is 18mon. now has been doing the same thing since she was a year old. It doesn't matter what kind of food or drink it is and always happens when she is eating. She will cough a few times and we can sometimes get her to take a drink and that will stop it, but that usually doesn't work. She will heave a few times and then be perfectly fine immediately after vomiting and will want to eat again.

This is so unpredictable we can't do a swallow study. It usually happens at home or when she is eating or drinking in the car. I don't recall it happening at a restaurant or at anybody else's house. She can go weeks between vomiting episodes.

She did have reflux as a baby but we have been off that medication since before she turned one. She does not appear to be nauseous or have heartburn, constipation or diarrhea.

The pediatrician has given her Zofram, but I don't think she is nauseous because she eats. She tested negative for celiac disease. I really don't know what to do either. Maybe she is eating too much, I have no idea. My husband and I think it may be related to the reflux she suffered as a baby.

My nephew and my parents doctor's daughter had the same issue. They resolved the issue by having tonsils removed. He just did the surgery in July. No issues since then.

Did they check for Celiac Disease? My son was just diagnosed and he had that sympton when he was younger. Could also be a texture thing...maybe try softer foods...yogurt, banana, etc....good luck!

Just a guess, but it sounds like he might be having some kind of gag reflex probably, which might be psycological (was he sick or did he almost choke before this began?). I have a friend who cannot swallow pills no matter how small they are - she has to grind them up into a powder and ingest it with a liquid because the second a pill hits the back of her tongue, she gags.

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.