Little Kids

Gag order

What to do if your child's gag reflex is too strong

By Diane Sacks
Gag order

Q: My five-year-old has always had a strong gag reflex. Trying foods with coarse textures, smelling odours she finds unpleasant, even blowing up a balloon will trigger it. She gets embarrassed when it happens in public.

The gag reflex is important because it ensures food does not get into our airways, and prevents us from choking. That said, it’s a good idea to have your daughter’s doctor perform a neurologic exam to ensure her reflex is completely normal. If gagging causes her to regurgitate food, the doctor should also check for reflux.

If all is well from a physical standpoint, you can try an occupational therapy exercise to desensitize your daughter’s gag reflex: Move a soft toothbrush over your daughter’s tongue to see where her gag begins. Then touch the toothbrush to this spot over several days until the gag decreases. Be careful: You don’t want her to lose this tendency altogether because it is a safeguard against choking.

This article was originally published on Jan 05, 2009

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