Photo courtesy of Upsilon Andromedae
From the start, our daughter always ate really well. She loved drinking her milk and we never had problems. It was really great, and easy. But as soon as we started with more solid foods, things changed. She suddenly started to have problems. Not that she didn’t eat enough, but for some reason, it seemed like she couldn’t swallow even the most gooey-like mixed of foods. It wasn’t a constant issue, but from time to time she started gagging. We had no idea why, but any type of food that wasn’t milk, she’d simply throw up because of the pressure she was putting on her stomach by gagging.
We did everything according to the rules:
- Don’t let her play during dinner
- Give her the right food, no large chunks or pre-made food for her age
- Don’t give her anything her body isn’t ready for yet
Now you’re thinking, gagging is not that big of a deal. And that on its own isn’t, except when it happened, it could take quite a while before she stopped emptying her stomach. And that’s where the issue is, at some point, she had to breathe. Which she did, closing up her entire throat until she couldn’t breathe.
It was so bad that at some point, she even started turning blue. I remember how panicked I was, yelling for my husband to come and help.
After that, we went to the pediatrician. This didn’t seem normal to us and we were really scared this could have a bad ending at some point. The pediatrician sent us to someone that was specialized in eating problems with kids.
Going to the specialist
The day we went to this specialist, we had to bring mixed food so we could give it to her there. We also brought her relax chair because we’d always give her food in this chair.
To our surprise, nothing was wrong. This doctor told us she was eating normal and she used her mouth right. Everything was great. Except one thing. Our little girl had an over sensitive mouth. No issue, except for the fact that as soon as she tasted little chunks in her otherwise perfectly mixed food she’d trigger a gag reflex.
What to do according to the specialist
- Don’t put too much food on the spoon. Small bites mean less surprises and less chances of choking on a mouthful of baby food
- We had to put her in a chair for larger kids, sitting straight, not her relax. That way, when she would start throwing up, it would come out more easily. Which makes so much sense. But even then she turned blue a couple of times. (luckily she did throw up less and less and got used to eating chunks)
- We also had to give her spoons with water between her spoons with food. Her oversensitive mouth got something neutral in between and could “reset”.
- We had to make two plates with food. One with perfect mixed food and one with just smashed food, and switch between two. This did not work for her at all though, so we just mixed the two together so every bite she took had chunks in it. This was the way to go for her, even though she was still quite young.
- We also had to start giving her baby cookies, the kind that melts in your mouth. This would also help her mouth get less sensitive. She was about 7 months old by now and she had 2 teeth to help her chew the biscuits.
Most of the doctors’ tips really helped us look in the right direction. You try a lot, to see what works for your child. Luckily she never lost her appetite because of this.
It took a while but eventually she grew out of this. But you keep feeling that fear, even though she’s now 2 and a half. If I hear her coughing when she’s eating, my heart immediately skips a beat.
The most important thing though, is that the specialist explained how to do the Heimlich maneuver when things would go wrong. We’ve had to do it a couple of times, but knowing how to do it with children really gives you a bit more confidence when something happens.