20 answers

My Toddlers Gag Reflex

Hello all! I was wondering if there is anyone out there with my same problem. My 20 month old will not chew food. He has had a MAJOR gag reflex since the day he was born. He is not too into feeding himself and not interested in any food that my husband and I eat. He is perfectly content eating his baby food. I have tried to incorporate mashed peas and carrots into his dinners and he will swallow all the mushy stuff and hold the pea and carrot pieces in his mouth - sometimes up to 20 minutes before he just swallows them. His eyes water and almost always gags and sometimes throws up. I'm trying to tell him to chew and I will put food in my mouth and chew so he can see what I mean but after MONTHS of this, he is just not getting it. He will eat goldfish, and tiny graham crackers, but he mainly sucks on them until they are soggy enough to swallow. I had talked to my pediatrician MANY times about this and he says to just gradually make his food more lumpy. Well, either he is just way too laid back for me or I need a second opinion because this has been going on way too long and I'm getting tired cleaning throw-up off the highchair. I would also like to stop the whole "spoon-feeding" buisness by the time my new baby starts rice cereal! :)Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I know some children who are being care by mother are having same problem. after they attend full time daycare, they become much better. Children will eat better when they are in a fun enviroment.

More Answers

As many others have said, get a second opinion. There is a reason he's not chewing his food.

1 mom found this helpful

I would get a second opinion and possibly a referral to a specialist. Something's amiss here. I have a VERY high gag reflex and always have. In fact, I can't eat carrots because they trigger it. But I can eat... unfortunately a bit too much sometimes! :)

Did your son have a lot of reflux after taking bottles/breast feeding? My son did and long story short, at 2yrs old we started behavioral therapy with a speech pathologist (speech pathologists are trained in swallowing)because he would not eat anything but his approximatly 20 "safe" foods (oatmeal, applesauce, banana, homemade pumpkin bread....all very soft foods). He also would NOT try anything new that was a soft food as well. He went to a year of therapy 2-3x per week before we relocated to CA. He has improved but truly this is a struggle we deal with at every meal. My advice is to consult with a psychiatrist/SLP team. I think if I had waited longer with my son his behavior would be that much more ingrained and even harder (imagine that) to address. Good luck, I understand your frustration...daily!!
E.

Hi A.,
My son was the same way. We would joke that he would need to take baby food to school. He was unable to eat anything lumpy. Just keep giving him strained food. Still give the crackers ans cereal and let him self feed those. Every kid is different and you don't have to do the toddler stage of lumpy food. Eventually he will want to try more big people food around two and a half. My son will be 18 years old in two weeks and he has been eating very well since age three. So just keep offering big people food that he can eat off the tray. Cereal, crackers, cheese, fruit snacks and as long as he has no physical problems it will be alright. I am an old Mom of 3. 26, 17, and 10, I also have two Grandchildren so there is a little bit of experience talking. Good luck and I know your discomfort in the whole highchair tray of BARF. Try not to worry and both of you will be fine. :)

Hi A.. I would definitely get a second opinion and possibly a referral to a specialist. Someone else mentioned seeing an OT which was also my thought. Some kids have sensory issues in regards to eating. We see our therapist through the Early Start program in our county at no charge to us.

Good luck!

HI A.--

I do not have personal experience with children who have gag reflux. However, I have worked with families with children who have gag reflux. Check out the Zero to Three national website and within the website google feeding and there is a great handout of working with babies that have this condition. Also, you may want to be referred to talk with a specialist especially if there is a weight concern or nutrition concern.

My doctor's office gave me some information on toddlers eating problems, and one of its suggestions was that once a child is fully capable of spoon-feeding himself, you should never do it for him. The article said that the best way to avoid feeding problems is to let the child learn to feed themselves as soon as possible and let them be in charge of how much they eat. Keep offering more lumpy table foods and finger foods and let him feed himself. He may not each much at first, but try it for at least a week (it takes several days without any food for someone to actually starve, so don't worry) and see if it makes an improvement in his appetite for those things. Hopefully there's nothing medically wrong, and baby food is really healthy, so I'd say it's Ok to keep giving it to him, as long as he feeds it to himself. Every kid is different, of course, but my kids were refusing baby food by 18 months. I hope some of this helps. That sounds like a really aggravating problem.

I would find another doctor. it sounds like this one is not taking you seriously. If you think it is a probablem then there probably is. Does he have anyother problem concerning his mouth. Speech issues or thumb sucking. It may be something is hurting him when he chews. My frineds little boy's toungue was not attached right and had to have it fixed. but as soon as it was fixed(i don't really know what they did) he started to eat better and talk better.
Good Luck
A.

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