Baby with Phlegm, Won't Drink Water, Burps up Food...

Updated on January 04, 2010
L.R. asks from Gresham, OR
9 answers

Okay, I'm getting really tired of this. My son is 11 months. He eats solids pretty well, and breastfeeds still also. He got a cold about a month ago, and he had a lot of phlegm as a result, and it would gag him, especially when he was feeding, and cause him to throw up his food. At first it wasn't a big deal, but then it got to where he had to eat almost every meal twice. It got better when we got him to drink some pedialite from a bottle or whatever we could get him to drink from (it varied), and then to get him off the pedialite we switched to homemade rice milk, which he took for a few days, and now won't take it anymore. He's got a ton of allergies, so I can't give him the standard apple/pear/grape juices, because he's allergic to them. That means that he's allergic to about 99% of the juices out there (orange and grapefruit are even worse, too). He likes cooked carrots, but he didnt' like fresh carrot juice, so I don't really know what to give him anymore. When he doesn't drink extra (and I don't produce enough milk anymore to give him enough liquids, since he eats so much of solid food), his phlegm gets thick and then he burps up. It makes a big mess, and I'm getting tired of changing his clothes when I really need to be doing something else. I have an older toddler, so it's not like he's my first and I have nothing better to do. Especially when I'm trying to get him fed so we can go somewhere, or so I can go fix food for the rest of the family. So... any ideas?

[The idea behind the rice milk was not to make formula, but to get him to take more liquids; it was made with brown rice, water, a tad bit of salt, and brown rice syrup, that was it. He was taking it between meals and still nursing normally. Just in case anyone was wondering.]

When I took him to the doctor, she said that there is nothing she can give him, because he's too young. I should just push fluids and wait for the cold to go away. Is that really my only option, or should I go when the regular pedi is there? (She's retired and fills in for the regular pedi's afternoon off.)

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So What Happened?

Well, I think I inadvertently hit on the solution. In a moment of desperation, as he began to cough, I told him "No no." I've been teaching him "No" in context of don't open the door to the Tupperware, don't play with the videos on the rack, don't touch the computer, etc, and he definitely understand that I want him to stop whatever behavior he is doing when I say it. Well, he stopped coughing and looked confused. Then he cleared his throat and was ready for the next bite.

My husband had been suspecting that he had developed the habit of throwing up, because it was an effective way of clearing his throat. By allowing him to cough once or twice, and then telling him no when it looks like he's about to gag, I am retraining his behavior, and he hasn't thrown up since. Yay!

Oh, and mixing pedialite with water is an excellent idea!

Thanks so much for the ideas! So far the best one was to dilute the pedialite. He takes a 1:4 solution of pedialite to water as well as he did with the pedialite alone.

Also, he doesn't have so much mucous that I can really do much with saline and a bulb syringe. He sleeps through the night without a problem pretty much every night. Experience has taught us that we just need to keep him hydrated.

As much as I would like to just nurse him more, it's kind of impractical. You see, as much as I would like to let him nurse until age 2, I really think I need to wean him as soon as possible. It will be much easier to do an elimination diet with him that it is to do it with me, and until we know exactly what he's allergic to, it's impossible to actually avoid it. He eats solids well, beans and rice and a few veggies and fruits. At his 1 year check-up I'm going to talk to the doctor about weaning. So nursing him more isn't really practical, as much as I would like to do it. Plus, if I don't have as much as he thinks I should, he bites. This has been going on for over a month, and I just want to be done with it. He has 4 teeth... Add to that the fact that not long ago when he was really sick and not wanting to eat solids, nursing him more often didn't do much to my milk supply--and I eat several of those milk-increasing foods on a regular basis: at least one or two per day already. My mom ran low on milk for me at 3 months and my brother at 6 weeks, so I'm thankful to have been able to nurse him exclusively for 8 months before adding in solids!

Besides, nursing him would give him more calories, which would decrease the amount he is eating. At his age, I don't want to do that. I want him to eat more solids and drink more water.

Right now I'm giving him the water/pedialite with a syringe I got from the hospital when we took him in one night. He likes it because he doesn't have to work to get the liquid. I'm going to try to transition him to a sippy cup of some kind as soon as I can! Hey, his sister can help with giving him liquids if he will take it from the cup!

So thanks all for the ideas!

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answers from Portland on

I don't have any suggestions for the coughed up phlegm, but I would suggest getting one of the Nosefrida snotsuckers (I know, great name...but they work GREAT!). I have one and have used it since my daughter was about 6m old, though they work well for newborns also. At 2 years old she now doesn't even fight me on it because she knows it helps her nose feel better. I found getting rid of as much snot as possible from her sinuses/nose really helps keep it out of the throat and lungs. Here is a link, though you can also get them online from just put in "nosefrida" in the search.

These work so much better than the bulb syringes that I wish they would give them to every new mother.

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answers from Portland on

Have you tried watering down the Pedialyte? Once I'm not worried about dehydration (or in our case keeping blood sugar high enough) I start adding water to the pedialyte. It gets my daughter to drink much more without the added sugar and salt. We've also had great luck with Pedialyte freeze pops.

He'll absolutely hate it, but you could try rinsing his sinuses with saline to cut down on the post-nasal drip and hopefully the gagging. I'm sure you already know, but a humidifier in the room can really help thin the secretions, too.

Oh, and I hear you on the fruit juice front. I can't have more than a couple of teaspoons of apple juice or it makes me sick. I can't believe how often it is used as a "filler" for other juices.

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answers from Seattle on

The easiest and best solve for him is probably to increase how much you're nursing him. Your supply will increase if you increase how often he nurses. Since he's had a cold, the immunities in your milk will also help his little body recover and help him get over it sooner. You may have been told that you can't increase your supply at his age, but you absolutely can. I had to do it with my daughter and it wasn't any more work than at any other age. It's much easier than changing everyone's clothing all day! :)

So, how to do it: nurse often! Every time that you're currently trying to get him to drink something, give him your breast instead. He'll get some milk each time probably and within a day (maybe 2?), your supply will be up. Offer both breasts every time you nurse. Consume galactagogues: tapioca, oatmeal, fenugreek, blessed thistle, brewer's yeast, More Milk or Mother's Milk tea, etc.

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answers from Seattle on

I would go get a second opinion. Something does not sound right. Follow your gut inxtinct. You know him better than anyone.



answers from Seattle on


I would suggest that maybe you cut back on some of the kinds of solids and try re-introducing them to see if one of them is part of the cause of his spitting up. My son only turned away the meats when he was starting out while I couldn't feed him fast enough of the rest. He loved sweet potatoes but he would spit them up every time (the only thing he ever spit up). I found that if they were mixed into anything, he would spit up.
I would wonder if some of the fillers might be part of your son's root cause as well.
We never had a big issue with sinus drainage while he was small but have discovered as he has gotten older that he is allergic to dust mites - which are everywhere.
I bought one of those "Little Noses" saline packs with the sucker bulb and we sit down with our "special water" and spray just a small amount several nights a week now and laugh as we "suck out those boogies so we can breathe better".
Your son is still a little small but if you sit him up, rather than lay him down where so much of the saline won't go down his throat, you might be able to make a game out of it as well. I started by sucking it on his hands and cheeks so he knew what we were doing.
Worth a shot.
And you can always help to hydrate him with the increase in your milk supply. Fenugreek was recommended to me and I had some increase with it but have heard of others who had a major increase. Just nursing more often, and me drinking more water, helped the most.
Good luck and I hope your little guy feels better soon.



answers from Bellingham on

First took him to a pedi (a sub at that) so if you had taken your child to a naturopath, you would have found out that the child might have developed a different allergy...and get more answers of what you can do...their digestive tracts are constantly changing at these tiny stages of life. wheat if first to mind...and you can take out the dairy from the diet and it should help a little more...if you haven't already done, there are also homeopathic remedies that you can use to dry the phlegm up a bit too...check into it more with a herbologist...



answers from Seattle on

Water sometimes gags a baby,no real weight to it. So try sucrose water, sugar water. My Mom gave my brother karo syrup water, a small amount of Karo syrup in a bottle mixed with warm water. They liked the taste and it kept them hydrated. I used the sucrose water from the hospitals for my babies as they were breastfed, but summer heat would pose problems with their hydration. You might try jello water as well, mixing jello with water more than what's required for it to set up. Not knowing what is causing all your son's allergies, there is a possibility that his digestion problems are due to unknown allergies. I wish you well.



answers from Seattle on

The best things I have found to get rid of phlegm for babies are baby vaporrub, taking them in a steamy room (bathroom while the shower is running), and saline nose spray and the nose sucker bulb. It takes some work but by using these things we were generally able to control our sons cold symptoms. Good luck!



answers from Portland on

Wow, L., what a tough time. I don't know of any offhand suggestions, other than to ask if you have worked with a naturopath. They are often very gifted at getting the "whole picture" of a person's health, and might have some ideas in regard to natural remedies. I, as well as several friends, have had very good results with this form of alternative care, and there are many NDs that specialize in pediatric/well-women's health. I hope that you find some resolution....I used to care for a child who had similar symptoms, but only when she cried....she'd throw up every time. It was very hard on everyone. So sorry.

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