Daughter's Gag Reflex

Updated on August 11, 2008
T.E. asks from Columbus, OH
7 answers

I don't know whether to be concerned yet or not, but my 7 1/2 month old daughter has had this 'thing' with gagging. She never liked cereal a whole lot (I think for the texture because she gagged unless it was practically formula consistancy) but loves pureed veggies and occasionally pureed fruits. But, watch out if the food doesn't get in the very front of her mouth or she'll gag, choke, or vomit. We have to warm her food (to get it more liquified) and then calm her down so she'll swallow and not get to the vomitting stage if the food has traveled towards the middle or back of the tongue. It's not that she doesn't want to eat or isn't ready for food - it doesn't happen every bite - but it does happen several times each meal. We just don't do thick mixed cereals or the thicker dinners - only the pureed stage 2's & 3's. I mentioned it to her pediatrician at the 6 month visit, but we really didn't focus on it being a problem yet. As long as she's still eating for the most part, I figured he probably won't want to see her again just for that - maybe she'll grow out of it? Anybody else had this happen? My son has always eaten like a champ with none of this type of reaction or behavior.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all soooo much! I scheduled an appointment with our pediatrician JUST about this issue and after a thorough exam he wants to do something like a CAT scan - she has to go to Children's, drink the Barium stuff (sp?) and they take a look at everything...if that's normal, he is suggesting Occupational Therapy. She not only chokes/gags on food, but on formula as well. Not as much on the formula - but consistently enough. I would have just let this go on for who knows how long...I appreciate all of your input.

More Answers



answers from Cleveland on

She may just not be ready for food yet. Some babies are ready at 3 months some at 1 year. Its all on her not some age a doctor assignes. I found with all of mine(4) that if I went with the flow with them they let me know what they were ready for and when. You'll know.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Canton on

I would make an appt. with the DR. for this problem. Not one where its for shots, cold etc. Concentrate on just this problem. My daughter had reflux and we tried everything,changing formulsa,sitting her up when fed etc.etc. I finally took her to the doctor and made him listen to what I was saying. He did an upper GI on her and found that she had a weak muscle in her diaphram that caused her reflux. She out grew it at about 1 year. until then we were never without a "burp towel" because we never knew when she would vomit or how much she would vomit.



answers from Cleveland on

My daughter did the same thing, I call her my drama-queen. So, I stopped feeding her off the spoon and exclusively breast fed her (formula feed) and then tried again in a few weeks. She stopped gagging and eats much better. I cut back and am only feeding her rice cereal once a day (so she gets used to eating off a spoon), but breast feed her the rest of the day for nutrition until she is fully ready for more spoon feeding. Our pediatrician said that babies really don't need to be spoon fed until at least a year. It's an american thing to want to feed our children off a spoon so early. Babies actually get all the nutrition they need in breast milk or formula and that's fine for the first year. It's just a good idea to get them used to the idea of being fed a different way (off a spoon), so as they do get older they will transition smoothly. I would hold off on the spoon feeding, give it a break and try again in a few weeks. See if the situation improves. Also, when you do feed her, maybe eat with her and show her how you do it. Babies learn well by example, they're smarter than you think.

Good luck, I hope this was helpful.



answers from Cincinnati on

Actually, neither of my kids was ready for solids until earliest 8 or 9 months -- and I've met *lots* of moms who have had similar experiences. Plus, the AAP keeps moving the date to start solids later and later (a while back it was start cereal at 6 weeks, then they moved it to 4 months, and now it's 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding or formula). I know you you think she's ready, but isn't it a big red flag to you that her food has to be liquid-like consistency? It would be to me. Also, have you seen these recommended signs of developmental readiness for solids (in other words, instead of watching the calendar, watch your child for these signs of readiness):

[Taken from kellymom's site - link included after exerpt.]
* Baby can sit up well without support.
* Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and does not automatically push solids out of his mouth with his tongue.
* Baby is ready and willing to chew.
* Baby is developing a “pincer” grasp, where he picks up food or other objects between thumb and forefinger. Using the fingers and scraping the food into the palm of the hand (palmar grasp) does not substitute for pincer grasp development.
* Baby is eager to participate in mealtime and may try to grab food and put it in his mouth.

We often state that a sign of solids readiness is when baby exhibits a long-term increased demand to nurse (sometime around 6 months or later) that is unrelated to illness, teething pain, a change in routine or a growth spurt. However, it can be hard to judge whether baby’s increased nursing is related to readiness for solids. Many (if not most) 6-month-old babies are teething, growth spurting and experiencing many developmental changes that can lead to increased nursing – sometimes all at once! Make sure you look at all the signs of solids readiness as a whole, because increased nursing alone is not likely to be an accurate guide to baby’s readiness. [End of excerpt]

There's absolutely no harm in continuing to breastfeed or formula feed exclusively for longer. Or, if she's exhibiting all the signs of solids readiness listed on kellymom's site, perhaps she'd do much better w/ straight table food, taking bites of her choosing, and maybe you could ditch the pureed foods entirely -- the textures are so different, it's possible that she'd gag on purees and not on the other stuff. I've met lots of babies who refuse purees all together and really just want table food in its unadulterated form.

Best of luck - and you have lots of time!



answers from Cincinnati on

I would say it wouldn't hurt to at least call and leave a message for the doctor. Leaving a detail message about what is going on and how you feel about the situation but yet you are unsure what to do can either give you answers or suggestions on what you can do about it. They may want to see your son, but just asking for advice on the situation may help.



answers from Canton on

I have a nearly 2 year old son and we've been having similar issues since he was about a year old. He never liked baby food so I exclusively breastfed until he could handle table foods. Then about the time he turned 1 he started to randomly gag and vomit out of the blue. We took him to the pediatrician who sent him for a swallow test at Akron Kids to make sure it wasn't a physiological problem with his swallow reflex. Everything was normal. Then we realized that we had gotten a Beagle puppy right around the time it all began. We gound the puppy a new home and it all stopped within a few days.

I would do as the other moms suggested.

~ Call the doctor.
~ Double check that nothing has changed besided try solid foods.
~ Go back to exclusively breast or formula feeding for a few weeks and then try again.

Good luck!


answers from Columbus on

Hi T.,
I just came across this post today. I know that my input won't be relevant to you anymore, but I wanted to respond in case another mom who's going through a similar situation comes across this post.

Gagging and vomiting in children can be dangerous because of the possibility for aspiration pneumonia, so it's very important to figure out what's going on with a child who is going through this. If they happen to get some of the food in their lungs, something that can happen during vomiting, that could lead to pneumonia.

I hope everything has worked out for you. :)

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