It is NOT normal if your kid gags or pukes when he’s offered new food


A child who gags at dinner.  Do you care.  An awful lot?

My heart is heavy you guys.  Four times in a week I’ve heard from a mama who has a gagging child.

OMG I can’t take it anymore. Mine is almost 8 and he still does this. WHY oh WHY? When does it end? Or does it?

Children who gag when new foods are introduced are big huge red flags.  Is this happening in your house?  I hope you are paying attention.  I know.  You’d rather bury your head in the sand.  Hope the kid outgrows it.

Dear mama,


Don’t do that!

your kid’s health appreciates it!


jenna, aka food with kid appeal


but the pediatrician said when he’s hungry he’ll eat

I’m not saying that some children aren’t engaged in power struggles with their parents, but if your child consistently can’t tolerate more than a few foods, and further, upon introduction of new foods, all new foods, gags or vomits, your child is in serious distress.  It’s my opinion that’s it’s not just emotional distress.  It’s my opinion that your child has some major digestive distress that causes his appetite to be so low, that he never really feels like eating.

Can you imagine that mama?  Never feeling like eating?  Like every meal was when you were full of fever with the worst flu ever, or a terrible migraine, or right after your dog died.  You get the picture.  Humans occasionally suffer from appetite loss.  But when humans are in constant appetite loss, what drives them to eat?

The other possibility is that the digestive distress has actually caused physical damage to the parts of the body that are involved in chewing and swallowing.  If your child favors purees well into toddlerhood (or beyond) this is a good sign that the child has anatomy issues that need to be addressed.

if your pediatrician insists that it’s a “mother feeding” problem and not a “kid health” problem after months and months of no improvement it is time to find a second, third, fouth opinion.

Just give it a shot.  If you withhold food for a meal or two, when kiddo gags and doesn’t eat, and he’s STILL not motivated to eat, I wager you have more on your hands than a power struggle.

mama, you are NOT crazy

If you have been dealing with a gagging-at-meals child for months, or worse, years, and everyone tells you that it’s simple, just do this or do that, then you probably feel like the worst mother of the year.

Ok.  Just knock that off.

Dig deep.  Use your mama instincts.  They’re there. You are NOT the worst mother of the year.  There is an actual real problem going on with your child and you KNOW that’s the truth.  The problem is that you’ve never solved this problem before and neither has anyone you’ve counseled for solutions, like your pedi, or your mother, or your sister.

Those folks have had their fare share of dinner time shenanigans and they might have solutions to those problems, but your kiddo’s problem is DIFFERENT. So it requires a different solution.

I’m here to tell you that you’re a good mama.  You’re still heavy hearted about this issue of feeding your child. You know something is. Um.  Not.  Right.

You’re still looking for solutions even though every solution you’ve heard of so far, and implemented, isn’t working.  Deep breath mama!

so now what?

Well, here’s the hard part.  There aren’t that many health care practicioners who are aware of the link between digestive distress and extreme feeding issues.  Your challenge now is to either find a medical practicioner who can help you, or figure it out on your own by doing research.  There is plenty of literature on line to look at, so start googling. Once you have some clues (hint: search leaky gut, gut dsybiosis, gut permeability), see if you can find a practicioner who is familiar with the treatment of these issues.

how do I find a practicioner?

  • Check in yahoo groups to see if your city has an “organic” or “raw milk” group.  people who are into either one of these things are more likely to use medical professionals who understand the link between nourishment and well being.
  • Check to see if your city has a holistic mom’s group.  Network with other moms. These mamas are likely to have referrals for you.
  • Visit the whole foods or local natural foods store in your area.  See if there are any referrals on the bulletin board or ask staff who they use.
  • Visit a farmer’s market.  Ask the farmers who they recommend.

why can’t i just bury my head?

Because if your child doesn’t eat real nourishing food, his brain and body are starved.  Starved brains don’t learn to potential.  Starved bodies to perform to potential.  Starved organs decline in childhood.  These things shorten life, worse, create disease.  Ack!

you can do this, yes you can

Ok. So.  I agree. This is a hairy problem.  It sucks that it’s not easy to solve.  Don’t fret.  This is happening in kitchens all over the country.  That’s a bad thing, but it also means that you and your child are NOT alone.  There is not some freak of nature thing happening to your child.  There is a resolution.  I can’t tell you what, exactly the resolution is.  But i can tell you that if you just keep at it, you will arrive at your destination.

Which is a child.  That can eat food.  Without gagging.

Believe it mama.  It can happen.

Spill it

What’s your story?  Leave a comment telling us your sob or success story.  I’m here to learn!  See what others have had to say (scroll down to the comments section).






35 thoughts on “It is NOT normal if your kid gags or pukes when he’s offered new food

  1. My son, now almost 11, was diagnosed with “leaky-gut” when he was 5. Our holistic pediatrician eliminated gluten and dairy for a full year, then reintroduced yogurt/kefir and other grains but wheat gradually over the course of the 2nd year. Now, 6 years later, he can eat anything he wants, though of course he knows to minimize wheat & full dairy – but he can partake of a slice of pizza at a bday party now! Just not pizza AND ice cream ….
    He was very underweight and completely uninterested in eating. Now he is at a healthy, though lean, weight and while eating isn’t his favorite thing, he puts away a good deal of food! It took 2-3 years to remedy his tummy.

    My 2nd son, now 9, gagged as a toddler. We were still breastfeeding at 17 months (almost exclusively – no solids) because he would gag on any solid foods. He had speech therapy for 18 months where they worked on de-sensitizing his gag reflex. He loved it and had lots of fun and by age 3 could eat without gagging. He is still sensitive to textures in new foods, but after a few teeny bites, can handle it.

    I agree whole-heartedly with this post. If your child is gagging or not eating there is something more going on – trust yourselves, mamas!

    Love and light,

  2. Pingback: Help! My Child Gags When He Tries a New Food | Food With Kid AppealFood With Kid Appeal

  3. As a former kid with eating issues I can vouch for the realness of just simply not being able to each much without getting sick. I do wish someone had worked with me at the time to figure it out, but am very grateful that I was not put under heavy pressure to eat more in the face of nausea, at least not from my immediate family. Not eating much has health repercussions, which I talk about on my site in ‘Confessions of a picky eater’, and resolving the problem as early as possible is much to be desired.

  4. I dont know how this happened but it did…I stumbled upon this place to express what is going on with my child and I am about to cry!
    I have been dealing with her situation for so long now that I am at a complete loss.
    She has seen a speech therapist, an endocrinologist, an internist, a geneticist, a neurologist, an allergist, and her pediatrician all regarding the fact that she refuses to eat. She has VERY LITTLE novel food intake. She will eat mac n cheese, buttered noodles, goldfish crackers, pepperoni, potato chips, and cheese pringles. She will not eat anything else, and when given a new food will simply vomit all over or gag. It is horrible. She has been seeing a speech therapist, however, with all the testing that has been completed, it is clearly nothing mechanical nor is it a physical issue. It appears this is totally mental. Is this possible? My daughter is adopted but we have had her since birth. She was a preemie, and never was a great eater. I am just completely sick of fighting. I DO KNOW that she has slow gastric emptying, and dysphagia, but I dont see why this would impact her willingness to try certain foods. HELP ME! Please!

    • I saw your post about your child not eating a variety of foods back in 2013. I am curious to see if things got better and if you ever got any answers. I have a 5 year old son that has the same issues. He eats biscuits (but only the ones I cook, noone elses), chicken fries, mashed potatoes, cheetos, doritoes, cheese pringles, butter toast, american slice cheese and gogurt. He drinks lots of milk and some sweet tea. He will go through spurts where he eats these foods pretty good and then he will go through a phase where he seems burt out on everything and eats only chips and drinks milk…that’s it all day. If I show him something to eat, it can be something he likes and he will gag and sometimes vomit just at the sight of it. He can smell something or see snot for example and throw up on the spot. He says he is sorry and that he can’t help it. He will not take ANY medicine by mouth. He has to get shots any time he is sick. Just the sight of medicine and he throws up. My doc thinks I’m crazy…says just put it in his mouth, he will take it….I feel like such a failure as a mom to him, but getting it down him would not be the hard part. I can’t make him keep it down. He doesn’t even eat candy so chewables are out too. I am about to pursue taking him to a neuro Dr. and was just curious if you ever got any answers or if things ever got better for you. Thanks

  5. I have an almost 11 year old that still has a feeding tube. if your preemie was intubated that could explain a lot! Find a therapist that specializes in sensory issues OT and ST! Also address the health issues. I know what you are going through!! Some kids will not eat just because they are hungry enough! My daughter will now, but there were years when she wouldn’t!

    • We had a similar experience. my daughter is 10. she just had her feeding tube removed last month, and she has had it since she was 4. she just couldn’t eat, gagging and throwing up until the tube was put in. I so wish i had found out about this blog and gaps and whatnot when she was a baby.

      Parents, do something about it NOW – not after your kid has a tube :(

  6. My daughter is 4 and her food sensitivities seem to be getting worse. She gags/throws up at the sight (or even thought) of foods that are “gross” in her mind. A few days ago, her daddy took an entire banana out of its peel, and she promptly threw up. But later that day, she ate a banana (partially in the peel so she could hold it, of course). Our Dr recommended occupational therapy (first she told us she would eat when she got hungry, but she would not), but so far the therapist hasn’t gotten back with us. It is definitely not a power struggle. She used to eat a variety of things, but slowly she has stopped eating different textures and is afraid to try them. She also has a lot of social anxiety, and I’m wondering if it’s ever possible that this could be related to anxiety instead of something physical (if so, how would I find out if it’s anxiety related?) She also gags/throws up when she sees a baby or toddler eating (especially if some food is smeared around the face, etc). Also, she was not a preemie, never intubated, she was nursed for 17 months (and she had a big appetite her first year or so).

  7. My daughter is 12. We have always considered her to be a “picky eater.” When she was younger she would consistently gag when pushed to eat foods she didn’t want to try, or when introduced to new foods. And, I remember a 10-month old, she wouldn’t eat anything but bread/butter…even though I would give her fruits/vegis, etc. I always assumed this was a control issue, but I’m beginning to wonder. At this point in our lives, she will only eat what she chooses, and we’ve almost given up arguing with her.

    In the last year and a half, we’ve discovered that she has had acid reflux for some time. She’s now on Nexium, but I don’t honestly know if it’s helping. We also just discovered a tree nut allergy. The last little piece in this puzzle is that she is significantly overweight.

    My daughter has a real problem with moderation if it’s something she likes. The problem is that she doesn’t like ANY real foods! (She doesn’t like meat, eggs, pasta, vegetables…the list goes on, and its extremely frustrating! Also, I can’t keep any junk food in the house, because it disappears immediately. I’d love to get some input from someone if you have any ideas or suggestions. Thanks so much!

  8. I don’t have a ton of experience with the gagging and throwing up food… but hear me out. My daughter is seeing an occupational therapist for sensory processing difficulties. Many of the children who come there, have major issues with eating food and keeping it down. After doing occupational therapy, they’ve been able to really improve their diet and eating. Another resource that has helped us is N.A.E.T. it’s a natural way to help food sensitivities, cure relflux and help the intestines digest food – I think it’s about saved our youngest daughter. Just thought I’d throw in my two sense, good luck you wonderful mammas.

  9. My mother was one of those who didn’t listen. She just gave me the same food regardless and would sit glaring at me for hours, telling it was my fault and that I was lying when I said I couldn’t swallow it. Some times I was hit. I didn’t only lack an appetite, I didn’t know what other people meant when they described hunger. After I left home, my problems were compounded by poverty, and I ended up in hospital with an opportunistic kidney infection because I was so underweight. A decade later, when I was diagnosed with a severe autoimmune disease, the doctor asked me if I had problems swallowing and I had to confess that I had no idea as I don’t know what the experience is like for other people.

    It’s now a decade since then, and I have spent the last year housebound because my gut problems became so severe. Recently, though, I started on new medication, and finally I have an appetite. It’s amazing to just know when to eat and, thanks to a specialist’s recommendations, to have food I’m able to eat.

    This has come too late in some ways. My disease has left me so wasted that I can barely walk. Had my problems been properly investigated when I was a child, I might have had preventative treatment from an early age, and my life could be completely different now.

    Please, listen to your kids. Sometimes something really is wrong. If you make the effort, it could give them a completely different future.

  10. I have a 16month old who has had gagging problems since birth. She has tongue-tie which got corrected at 2weeks of age. However she has still had feeding problems. She had reflux alot which caused her to vomit her milk soon after feeds. Now that she is on table food she is still gagging with some vomitting and has the most tiny portions…makes me want to cry at times :( Have pushed and pushed dr’s and now awaiting app with speech and language therapist. Just reading this post has made me want to fight more to find out the cause of all this. My motherly instincts tell me something isnt right and it isnt just fussy eating!

  11. I seldom leave a response, but i did some searching and wound up here It is NOT normal; kid gags or pukes when offered new food – Food W Kid AppealFood With Kid Appeal.
    And I do have a couple of questions for you if you don’t mind.
    Is it only me or does it look like some of these comments come across as if they are left by brain dead people?

    :-P And, if you are posting on additional sites, I would like to follow anything new
    you have to post. Could you list of all of all your social pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

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  14. Help!!! My son is three in one week and still not doing solids.. Have tried playing with food mashing it bit by bit from purée to bit lumpier and he just vomits.. We have gone through an early intervention as his slower delayed with his walking also and keep getting told the food will come as he gets older..

    We have started from start few times now from baby sachets up to 6month he gets to 8-10months and gags and vomits with the little chunks of veggies or pasta..
    As a mum I know these sachets his on is not giving him all the nutrients he needs and the home made soupy purée every day isn’t helping him learn to try new things.. Coming into summer I would love for him to eat fruit and all the yummy things his missing out on.. I’m based in Melbourne and if anyone can recommend somewhere or someone to see I would be so grateful, Any advice would be Great also, Thank you!!! :-)

  15. When my son (now 10) was about 18 months he choked and nearly died fortunately for me my sister who is a nurse was in the same house and bought him back for me. After that I became neurotic about food I would hawk my son at dinner times and give him swift pats to his back if he so much as coughed around food. Unfortunately my over protective approach to the issue effected my son a lot which now I can see but at the time I was so focused on him surviving every meal that i could not see what I was doing. A year on my relationship broke down and my son would run and hide crying at meal times and not only with me but also at child care. That is when my family realised what was going on and how limited my sons diet had become it has taken me now 8 years to get to the point that I am at he will eat most food but only cooked in a particular way or he gags he won’t touch any sauces so no lasagna spaghett bolognais ketchup ect…. After years of vomiting his food up he has only to gag a few times before he vomits which has happened just from getting a spot of sauce from someone else’s food on his finger. Even tonight he gaged on his dinner because I tried putting a bit of purée on his ravioli and it wasn’t the taste because I know he likes purée on pizza I think it was the thought of something new or different.
    Has anyone got any suggestions to get over this last hurdle

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