23 answers

Why Does My 6Wk Old Choke So Bad While Feeding? She Looks like She's Drowning.

Hello, this is my first post ever so I hope i'm doing this right, I'm desperate for an answer. I exclusively breast feed and thought I had an overactive letdown reflex but she even chokes if I bottle feed her my milk. Sometimes she stops breathing while feeding and I have to stimulate her to get her breathing again.Ive tried holding her in a more upright position and many other reccomendations for reflux babies and nothing has helped. Her doc thinks it's reflux but the only symptoms that match reflux are the choking and back arching. She doesnt cry or seem bothered by the choking episodes and goes right back to nursing. She was put on reflux meds and after 2 weeks I stopped giving them to her because I saw no improvement. And the choking ONLY happens while she's feeding, never if I lay her down. I don't think it's reflux. Her doc did a Barium Swallow/Upper GI X-Ray Test for Infant Reflux and although she NEVER vomits/spits up with me, she did during the test but i blame it on being fed the liquid while laying down, giving them a false indication that she vomits with every feeding and although i did tell them she never vomits, the fact that she did it in front of them gave them the conclusion that she does have reflux. Could this be a respioratory problem? Other than choking, she's a very happy and easy baby. She was a healthy newborn born at 38wk6days, I did have gestational diabtetes but my sugar was diet controlled.
p.s I also tried a nipple shield to slow down my flow, and she still choked.
****update #2 6/23***
Sorry I dont know how to repond to your answers ladies but just wanted to mention that she chokes with every single feeding and it happens atleast 1-2 times and anytime during the feeding, not only in the begining or the end or middle, it's very sporadic.

6/23 ***update***
So after posting with you ladies yesterday, I took my little one in to talk to her doc about this. I saw a different doctor who also had me nurse her in front of him to see what happened and ofcourse she choked. So they're pretty clueless as to what's happening since reflux has now been ruled out, by me mostly cause they still seem to kinda believe it is reflux, I call that not knowing whats going on and blaming the most common problem. Anyways, this other doc had the nerve to tell me "I wouldn't be too worried about the choking" and I tell you ladies when she said that I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I told her " I AM worried, how could I not be worried, SHE STOPS BREATHING!" She wasn't expecting that and suggested we see a GI specialist and a Pulmunologist and that's what we're going to do, hopefully within the next week. Wish us luck ladies!

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NAET.com for allergy eliminations.

My mother had a terrible time with me in 1971. She said I was colliky all the time. It was due to food allergies.

Be well.


My son would also choke when he was around 6 weeks old. It was very scary and I would have to stop feeding him and lift him up so he could catch his breath and stop choking. I don't know if it was the letdown or what the exact reason for it was, but I noticed he would latch on and start sucking really fast and if I moved even a little bit, he would get startled and choke on the milk. (A few times I noticed he was eating while he was sleeping). I also suggest you go to a lactation consultant and have them watch you breastfeed. They may notice something. In parallel you can explore the other options you listed above.

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ROFL....I'd completely forgotten my son did this!!!...greedy little guy.

He would suck and suck and suck, and then try and continue to suck even when he finally had to breathe. Silly little scoofer. It took him a long time to work out the logistics of breathing and eating. Probably about 2 and a half months. And it wasn't an overnight thing, it was something that he slowly got a handle on. Even once he "figured it out" he was still the absolute noisiest eater I have ever heard. My husband called him "piglet", which annoyed me no end, but was a fairly accurate description.

One thing I started doing that helped, was that every 4th gulp I took my breast away. He'd be livid or confused in the beginning, but as soon as he took a breath I'd give it back. He'd get into a rythym for awhile and then get intent, forget to start breathing, and then (I got good at telling when he was about to choke) I'd take my breast away again. After about a week of that he got used to it (no sleeping feedings for me!), but ti was fairly intense that first week. For the next two months he gradually worked out the process until he could manage to alternate breathing and eating.

I have to say, it didn't even occur to me to take him to the doctor for it. But I had, let's see here....7 mums (2 of them nurses) with a total of over 25 kids under their belts...around me who laughed at his "greediness", and relaxed *me*. I DID take him to the lactation consultants to make sure he was getting enough (he was soooo voracious), and yup. over 20oz each feeding.

2 moms found this helpful

Could be related to the Gest Diabetes. Infants of diabetic mothers (even when sugars were fairly well controlled) are notoriously bad eaters. I was a NICU nurse and we ALWAYS had a rough time with these little guys & gals. Along with the advice of helping munchkin develop her suck/swallow/ breathe rhythm by removing the breast at intervals, I would try to see if you can get in with a lactation consultant to clear up feeding issues. However I would also REALLY pay close attention to see if she's "forgetting to breathe" at any other time - particularly when she's napping/sleeping. If you notice THAT, call 911, and then grab your doc by the neck and get him to give you an apnea monitor. (Alarms when she stops breathing during sleep so you can stimulated her to breathe.) I seriously don't think that's what's going on since she's a good gestational age but would feel remiss if I didn't tell you to have your sniffers up for that just in case. I tend to overreact to the phrase "forgetting to breathe." :-) Personally, I think she's probably just a normal challenging feeder related to being the infant of a diabetic mother and she'll grow out of it soon. Last thought that just occured to me...is there anything that might lead you to believe she might have an allergy?
Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi there. I didn't have time to read your whole post, but it sounds like you may have overactive let down. An enviable situation for those moms who don't make enough milk. You may try pumping for 1-2 minutes before feeding to take the pressure off before your baby latches on. Or seek some guidance from a lactation consultant. They are so good at the Pump Station in Santa Monica and Hollywood!!

Good luck!

NAET.com for allergy eliminations.

My mother had a terrible time with me in 1971. She said I was colliky all the time. It was due to food allergies.

Be well.


Maybe your breastmilk is shooting out to fast for her? Have you tried pumping and then bottle feeding with a nipple with a TINY hole? I don't know. Doesn't sound like it is a physical problem.
Good luck to you!

Hi L.. I don't know what's causing the choking with your baby or the breathing issues. But, you've been through this twice before, you're not a brand-new mommy, and it sounds like this didn't happen with your other little girls. I wanted to support you and say that you should 100% trust your mommy instincts, and if you think something is wrong demand that your doctor keeps exploring until you're satisfied. If it means you have to make an appointment at the pediatrician and feed your daughter in front of him/her, do it. I know someone whose baby girl always woke up gasping for air, like she'd been holding her breath for a long time. Both parents thought it was not right and mentioned it to the pediatrician. The pediatrician said it was common and not to worry. That's as much of the story as I want to share, but the parents were right and the doctor was wrong. Anyway, I have no doubt everything will be totally fine, but I just wanted to encourage you to pursue this to whatever degree you need to to feel like your daughter is being checked for any potential respiratory issues, and not to feel intimidated by doctors. They are wonderful, by and large, but they are not infallible.

I also had an overactive letdown,and what helped was feeding her one side at the time(empty out just one breast per feeding,you can pump or express from the other one just a little until your body gets it), that helped my baby a LOT and until today(13 months) we still do it that way.
Also the bottles that worked for us were the sassy mam it seemed the holes in the nipple and the shape of it was comfortable for our baby.
I hope this helps,
good luck!

My son would also choke when he was around 6 weeks old. It was very scary and I would have to stop feeding him and lift him up so he could catch his breath and stop choking. I don't know if it was the letdown or what the exact reason for it was, but I noticed he would latch on and start sucking really fast and if I moved even a little bit, he would get startled and choke on the milk. (A few times I noticed he was eating while he was sleeping). I also suggest you go to a lactation consultant and have them watch you breastfeed. They may notice something. In parallel you can explore the other options you listed above.


It could still be reflux. My now 2.5 year old had "silent" reflux which is reflux minus all the spitting up. So the contents of his stomach were backing up and irriating his esphagus (sp?) - silent reflux can cause pnemonia because the stomach acid can back up and get into the lungs. I'd definitely follow up with the specialist. I'm with you. If it were my child, I'd want to know EXACTLY what is going on and not some guess work.

Good luck,

L.-this is going to sound crazy but the human body is complex and sophisticated and has a way of taking care of itself. Often times, a child will arch their back and cough and choke simply because they want a break from eating and would like a good burp. I know that it is probably not that simple, but with how undeveloped their little tummies are at this age (some are way more underdeveloped than others) you never know how the symptoms may show up. I think that she will outgrow this, but you may want to burp her every minute or so. How frequent is the choking? Does it happen within seconds of latch on every time? My son did the same thing and this solution worked, it was like he was forcing me to know he needed frequent breaks. Also, maybe she is not breathing well through her nose yet and that could be causing it. Being she is so little, some of her precious body parts may need more time to mature??

I am going through the same thing. It gets better. It probably is related to how hard your baby is sucking and your letdown. It takes them and your body some time to adjust. It has gotten better now that he is 2 1/2 months. My son does spit up sometimes though. They have an immature trachyia and sometimes have trouble swallowing. If she doesn't have the signs of reflux that is probably what it is. If she is gaining weight well than she is getting enough milk then it is probably your letdown and the baby's ability to swallow it.

L. - This may sound crazy to you, but some babies who were suctioned at birth have a hard time feeding. The reaction can happen if during a feed something (the nipple or liquid) touches the same place that was touched during the suctioning. It's kind of like when an adult who, as a child, had a sibling who pinched them on the arm regularly. When that adult is touched in that place on thier arm they often react by trying to shake off or push away the touch. If she was suctioned at birth and you think this might be the problem, feel free to contact me if you want more info. All the best, K.


My 2 year old did this at birth. She was born at 36 weeks by emergency c-section. She had jaundice at birth and also sleep apnea. So, she was in the NICU and the NICU nurses informed us she had feeding apnea. I also had gestational diabetes with her and it was all diet controlled. When the nurses would feed her, after about 2 or 3 minutes, she would stop breathing and fall asleep. They would have to stimulate her to get her to finish feeding. She was in the NICU for 2 weeks after birth, I was discharged earlier. It started with the middle of the night feedings. So, my husband and I would drive 30 miles to the hospital at 1 a.m. to feed her ourselves and nothing happened. The very next feeding, she would stop breathing during her feeding by the nurses. They were sure to keep a log of everything and how long she was not breathing and how long it took to stimulate her to keep her awake. She came home on an apnea monitor. For a while in the hospital, the nurses would feed her with the apnea monitor on and that would just do enough to stimulate her to stay awake and breathing to get through the feedings. We were then told to keep stimulating her during her feedings and it worked. We would rub her cheek if doing a feeding alone. If someone else was around, they would run her feet during the entire feeding. It was just enough to keep her stimulated and breathing during the feedings. She is fine now. She does have a birth defect that we are trying to find out exactly what caused it and what it causes. She does have some delays. Other than that she is happy and is now finally walking on her feet. She was knee walking previously.

If you would like to talk to me more, please feel free to contact me: ____@____.com

Also a mother of 3 girls.

So what did you ever find out? My son is doign this too!!

Hi L.,

I think it does sound like a case of "overactive" let down. One of the things you can do is pump for a short while before feeding her. Then let her feed for a few minutes then give her a break. When bottle feeding some babies need to burp or rest every ounce. Just a caution about reflux also, not all babies spit up with reflux, there is what you call "dry reflux" where the baby pulls away from the breast seeming like they are in pain,or grunting/choking and gassy, but with no spit up. One of the things you can do, is go see a lactation consultant, I would always go this route first before seeing your pediatrician. Unfortunately most peds are not as qualified to give advice on breast feeding issues as we would like them to be. Most hospitals have free lactation consults for breast feeding issues. Good luck.

When I read this, I immediately thought: Does she have a stuffed nose? or "boogers" in her nose? (this can also clog their nose). Their noses are so tiny afterall.
This also causes the symptoms you describe. My kids did that too... and it was when/if their noses were stuffed, or clogged with a booger.
Its hard to drink and have a clogged nose at the same time...

Newborns often have "stuffy" noses.... Babies sneeze quite a bit during the newborn period, with all of the fluid from the in utero environment and all of the milk spit up that gets deposited in the back of the nose. Babies really need to have a very free and clear nasal passage in order to feed well and be comfortable. If the nose is not completely free, they may have trouble feeding or even sleeping.
Here is a link on it:

But yes, my kids also would do that when the letdown was occurring..
Make sure you also burp her... which I"m sure you're doing.

All the best,

L. O

It sounds like you are doing everything right, however, if she eats like my youngest boy did she is drinking too fast. Slow her down a little. Feed her for a short time, then when she begins to choke, stop feeding her and let her swallow what she has eaten so far, burp her,then begin again. She will learn through this method over time, it probably won't take long. Then if she continues to eat this way, keep stopping and starting again until she learns that the food is not going anywhere until she is full. I know you will figure out how to manage this, you are her mother and you and your daughter will find the middle of the road. I know you will get good and bad advice from other moms, and some from recommendations from your pediatrician. I hope this helps.

My daughter did the same thing until about 2-3 months old. AND if she ate too much would throw it all back up. It IS a letdown issue, and the bottle flows just as fast as a breast, with no break for the baby. She is probably just having a hard time getting the hang of swallowing and breathing while there is a ton of milk pouring down her throat. As soon as you letdown, pull her off the breast for just a minute and let the flow slow down - that should help a little. Other than that, give it time, after about 3months of age my daughter stopped the choking and gagging and was able to eat in peace, and still does today (12 months today!). I don't think she (your daughter) has reflux, I think she's just getting too much milk for her little mouth, throat, nose to handle at once! Keep up the good work, it will get easier.

Sorry you and your daughter are going through this. My son had very weak mouth/tongue muscles and when he bottle fed, the formula or breast milk just poured out of the sides of him mouth. We had to go to an oral therapist for evaluation and then exercises we did at home and at the therapist. My dh, who was very skeptical, even saw an improvement. Its just a thought and maybe she is not swallowing strongly or properly. Good luck.

Yes, try getting a second opinion. You're right, it doesn't sound like reflux. Maybe she has problems swallowing? I'm not sure what kind of 'problem' it would be, but I'm sure there is something that can cause that. Try a really slow-flow bottle, and see if it helps. Maybe you can also take frequents small "breaks" while feeding to give her a chance to swallow. And you could try pump/express before BF to see if that slows down your milk flow a bit....
That's all I can think of... Good Luck!!

It could be the nipple you're using for the bottle. I started my daughter on the newborn nipple, for Dr. Brown bottles but found that was just too fast (and every other bottle brand we tried was even faster!). The lactation consultant we saw (I had many b/f issues) recommended the preemie nipple to start. We used that one until she was about 4 months old and have moved her up to the Level 1.

i would get a second opinion. i also have a 6 week old boy and he chokes when he is finished eating. his 2 month appt is next week so i will check with my ped about it, maybe he will give me some advice and i can pass it on! sorry i couldn't be more help...do u have the baby book by dr sears..i know there is some really helpful info in there!! good luck

Hey L.,

My second little girl was having issues while breastfeeding. She sometimes sounded like she was choking, but her main symptom was projectile vomit shortly after eating. Although it's not exactly the same situation, I thought I would share. Turns out my daughter wasnt latching properly and this was causing her to create a vacuum and she was gulping down too much milk too fast. This was my second child and my second time breastfeeding, and I thought she was doing ok with breastfeeding and didnt think to work with a lactation consultant until my pediatrician had me talk to the lady in his office. She helped me correct the latch and presto....no more problems! Anyway, although it's not exactly the same....it might have something to do with her latch...might want to check with a lactation oonsultant. There are free support groups at many hospitals and many pediatricians have them in their offices. Worth a shot if nothing else is helping. Good luck!

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