Problem with Textures and Stron Gag Reflex

Updated on March 04, 2008
T. asks from Cleveland, OH
16 answers


I am a mother of a 2 1/2 year old and almost 1 year old girls. My younger one has problems with textures. Not just a little, a lot. Anything that has more texture than babay purree or baby oeatmeal makes her gag and often puke to remove the texture.
In two weeks we have our 12 months checkup, but since I know it is not normal, I was wondering if anyone else had expereince with this.
And believe me, it is neither for the lack of trying nor for the lack of liking flavors. She loves the different favlors we eat and she wants to try the food all the time. Generally she will have it in the front of her mouth and suck on it or move it around and then push it out. But when it passed the tongue lets say midway, then she starts gagging adn if it does not come out it will actually get puked out. We had introduced solids at around 5 months with rice ceareal and purees adn she had no problem. Around 6-7 months she started gettign itnerested in our food and I offered her tiny pieces just like I did with my older one and we have been trying all kinds of textured solids ever since.

Open for any hints and help. Thank you, T..

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answers from Indianapolis on

It sounds like she is having some swallowing issues. And she is very smart to not just go ahead and do it. I would tell the doctor you want a swallowing study done. I am a First Steps Therapist and she is not too young to have one done. Believe me, if the study shows any challenges they won't be hard to work through!
Good Luck!

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answers from Cleveland on

Don't panic! You are not alone! Both of my boys (who are now 3 and 6) had this issue. I had to get occupational therapy for both of them when they were about as old as your daughter. My oldest (who has other issues, too...low muscle tone, high-functioning autism, etc) took longer to get the hang of it, but he now eats like a normal 6 year old. There are foods he still gags with (bananas coming to mind), but other than that he eats very well. My youngest had the same issues and he also couldn't sip from a cup. I started occupational therapy for him when he was 12 months old and by the time he was 15 months we were done with therapy and he never had another problem! Tell your doctor about it and good luck!! It's not so bad once you know what the issue is. Your daughter probably has poor muscle control in her tongue and mouth. Don't be scared that it is autism (I know all the talk about autism in these posts may scare you). My 3 year old is a walking, talking, eating example that not all feeding issues are due to autism.



answers from Cincinnati on

The only thing I can offer is that my ex boyfriends son had this problem.....he is mildly autistic. His biggest problem is with food and texture. He is 7 yrs old now and still eats jar baby food. But they have been working with him for a long time and he has gotten to the point now that he will sometimes take small bites of things. So basicly it is a sensory thing. You might want to talk to your Dr at your checkup about having your DD tested.

Good Luck!



answers from Terre Haute on

first of all, congratulations on your two princesses! i have a 2 1/2 year old girl as well. what a joy she brings to our lives! when she was small, she was developmentally delayed because she was born 8 wks. early. our pediatrician was phenomenal and referred us to a physical and occupational therapist when she was 12 mos. old. i highly suggest you speak to your pediatrician for a referral to an occupational therapist or a similar professional. i'm sure when others say "autism" or "sensory integration disorder" you feel scared and overwhelmed. please don't be. your child is so young and early intervention is the key to helping your child. i'm sure you're a great mom and things will work out for you and your little princess. God bless!



answers from Indianapolis on

As a mother of twins born at 27 weeks I can sympathize with your frustration with this. My twins are boy/girl and the boy eats like a pig and my girl has always and still does (7years old) have texture issues. The best thing I can advise is to speak with your pediatrician about setting you up with some sort of speech therapy. They also deal with eating issues such as these. In case you don't know Indiana has whats called First Steps and they are therapists of all sorts that deal with premies and I think if your child, be it premie or not, can be evaluated by these therapists if there are any problems. Also, you may want to ask them about getting a swallow study done on her. That is one of the first things they did with ours to make sure she didn't have any narrowing in the esophagus as that can cause her not to be able to get anything other than thin foods down. They usually make sure there are no problems like that before they just say it's a texture problem.
Hopefully this helps you if no one else has already told you all this.
C. (mother of 7 year old twins and stepson 15 years old)



answers from Indianapolis on

I would consider a First Steps evaluation, or whatever it is called in your state. Here in Indiana they are the early childhood intervention program. She may need some speech therapy. Maybe she has some muscle discoordination that needs evaluated and treated. I had a friend whose child had a similar problem, only he wouldn't take anything by mouth without spitting up and gagging. He was also particular on how he was held to take a bottle. First steps worked for him. You do not need a doctors order, you can contact them yourself. Fees are based on a sliding scale. good luck.



answers from Columbus on

Hi T.,
My daughter had a problem with gagging when she ate or drank. They did a swallow study and found nothing wrong. When her tonsils were removed at age 2, it corrected itself!
Hopefully, your dr can arrange for a swallow study.




answers from Indianapolis on

Having a hyper-sensitive gag reflex is a common symptom in children with sensory-integration difficulties. Their brains over-react to some textures of food and even things they touch or feel on their skin in many cases. The reasons for some children having these difficulties is not well understood, but is not due to a parenting problem, so don't blame yourself. There is a type of treatment, sensory integration therapy (SIT), that helps with this problem. It is provided by a pediatric occupational therapist who is specifically trained in SIT. You can have your daughter evaluated through First Steps or an OT recommended by her pediatrician to determine if this is the problem and if so, treatment can be initiated. Hope this information is helpful. Good luck!
S. F., Indianapolis



answers from Lima on

Hi T.,

I agree you should bring this up to your pediatrician. It may be an overactive gag reflex? It could even be more of a strong aversion in the mouth. I work in early intervention and I know speech therapists can help with desensitizing the mouth if your Doctor feels an evaluation would be warranted. Best of luck. I am a mother of 2 five year olds a boy and a girl. Both born two months early and are thankfully very healthy!! Feeding at first was quite a challenge for us so I can understand your frustration to a point!! B.



answers from Kokomo on

T., my youngest had the same thing. Lots of wt issues and feeding issues. Basically it is a texture issue. There is actually a great feeding clinic in Ohio..I looked into it when we were getting treatment. Ask for a referral to a therapist. Sometimes it is Occupational-OT or Speech ST that does feeding issues. They will do lots of feeding work and other texture and sensory things go along with it. You can email me seperately at if you want more info or support. It is SOOOO Frustrating. The good news she is now 5 and eats fairly normally, but it was a very rough time from 10 months till she was 2 1/2.



answers from Elkhart on

I just want you to know that you are definitely not alone. I am an occupational therapist and I know this can be very frustrating. I would recommend that you have her evaluated by either a speech therapist or an occupational therapist. I would go for a speech therapist first. All states have an early intervention program that provides therapies of all kinds for children under 3. Usually the therapist will go to the child's home or daycare and the cost is either free or very low. Talk to your doctor about this, they should be able to give you the number to call for your area. Good luck!



answers from Indianapolis on

I know two friends that have children with texture issues and both children have autism to some degree. Both families went to several doctors and found treatment. It is very important you don't wait and find help. The earlier you can find help the better. (Lots of issues can be reversed if help is sought before two) My friend said if you can get help when you first notice the texture issue and get therapy, a lot can be done for autism. It is crucial to diagaonse before the age of two. With therapy I can not even tell her son has autism, he eats, talks and socializes very well. She was/is very proactive.



answers from Lafayette on

my friends' son was like that when he was her age, he's now 3 and nothing gets in his way at supper. she just kept him on the pureed cereals and got a blender to puree fruits & veggies until he was ready (stopped puking)to eat other foods. GERD/acid reflux is spitting up and/or excessive(projectile) vomiting after EVERY feeding and continues past one year of age. if it something that really bothers you, then talk to her doc..there's no such thing as a stupid question & you'll never know unless you ask.



answers from Fort Wayne on

My niece has this same problem. It's an actual condition. I can't remember the name of it right now though. My sis had to put food through the baby food grinder for a really long time. Once the problem was diagnosed, they were able to start taking steps to remedy the problem. I'm sorry I don't have more information for you right now. I wish I could remember the name. Rest assured, it is an actual condition. Bring it up to your pediatrician. If they don't believe you, find someone that will. As I recall, it took my sis awhile to find someone to actually diagnose the disorder. Good luck!



answers from Dayton on

At her age I really wouldn't worry too much about it. Everyone has difference tolerence levels for different things. It could cause other problems if you make too much of it.
My DGD, now 5 did not like anything with lumps.Fortunately she didn't have as much problem as your DD, but she would spit out any lumps. She got over it and eats very well. Her mom, MY DD would gag at the taste of meat, so we had to wait until she could handle it.
I have read the responses which seem to indicate the possibility of this being an indication of serious problems. Both DD and DGD are extremely intelligent.DD was considered gifted and DGD seems to be following in her Mom's footsteps!
Most kids do out grow things like this, so don't stress yourself as long as she is eating a healthy diet otherwise.



answers from Lima on

I myself have not dealt with this but I have a friend who has with her one son, and the biggest key is make your regular pediatrician send you to a child specialist for gag reflux problems. Better yet if you are close to a children's hospital, those doctors deal only with children, and have an enormous amount of experience and usually know exactly what you are dealing with.

L. Gratz

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