Skip to content


    Attention All WebMD Community Members:

    These message boards are closed to posting. Please head on over to our new WebMD Message Boards to check out and participate in the great conversations taking place:

    Your new WebMD Message Boards are now open!

    Making the move is as easy as 1-2-3.

    1. Head over to this page:

    2. Choose the tag from the drop-down menu that clicks most with you (and add it to any posts you create so others can easily find and sort through posts)

    3. Start posting

    Have questions? Email us anytime at

    My child won't eat after "near choking" incident
    rsjc1062 posted:
    It has been over 3 weeks since my 7 year old daughter had a "near choking" incident on a pretzel. She was able to cough it up but it scared her to death and she will hardly eat anything for fear she will choke again. I know this is a normal reaction but my question is "how long is too long?" She has lost several pounds and I have taken her to her pediatrician and they do not believe there is anything physical that would stop her from being able to swallow food. I have tried to not make a big deal out of it and I make sure she eats at the table with the rest of us. She will occasionally eat small amounts of soft chicken but prefers mashed potatoes, cottage cheese and yogurt. That is really about all I can get in her and per her doctor, have been supplementing her diet with Pediasure. She has always been a picky eater and she is small to begin with and she has been acting out more than normal which I attribute to hunger. She is not eating lunch at school, even though I pack it myself with things I think she will eat. The anxiety this is causing for me as a mother is beyond words and when she goes to her father's for the weekend, her grandmother coddles her and her father has a strict "swalllow it now" approach which I strongly disagree with. Her father is now insisting that I take her for tests because he thinks it is a physical problem but I know my child and I can see her fear. Please help...what else can I do and, most importantly, how long can I wait before it becomes detrimental to her nutrition needs? Also, should I subject her to invasive tests when I believe it is fear and anxiety? She doesn't express being uncomfortable when it is not meal time and will say things while eating such as , "it doesn't happen every time I eat, right?" I keep the conversation at mealtime on everything other than her fear of eating. I'm very worried and don't know whether to take her for testing or find a phycologist or just wait it out and if I need to wait it out, for how long? Any advice would be appreciated as I don't know what to do at this point.
    momuv4girls responded:
    When an incident such as this happens, it can cause a child such severe anxiety that they just won't eat - - it happened to my friends daughter.

    I highly suggest you finding a "feeding therapist" - yes, there are such a thing! My friend found one for her daughter, and she was SO helpful.

    Now depending on where you live, one may be not as easy to find (if you live in a more rural area). You may need to do some the local Hospital Children's Dept., call local Child Nutritional Services - something along those lines, to get a referral of someone who can help young ones.
    Here is a link I found - - it would be great to find something along these lines:

    Take care, and the best of luck to you and your daughter!!
    rsjc1062 replied to momuv4girls's response:
    Thank you so much for the response. We are making slow but steady progress and we do live in a rural area so I will definitely research feeding therapists and see what I can come up with. I knew she needed more psychological help then physical to help her overcome her fear but never new a feeding therapist existed. Thank you again for your response and the link.
    momuv4girls replied to rsjc1062's response:
    You're so very welcome! I hope you are able to find some local resources for your daughter.

    Take care!!
    mommytomason8 responded:
    Hi there, can you tell me the progress with your daughter? I have an 8 year old son that choked about 7 weeks ago and now gets very anxious to the point it's hard for him to get full breathes. I tried the heimlich maneuver on him but it was to lodged and I had to call 911. I feel like he thinks I can not help him if it happens again. I have been able to get him to eat yogurt, vanilla icecream and will lick his food. it's becoming unbearable to watch. He's had an xray and seen his Dr and he said it will take time. Any suggestions?
    bailee10 replied to rsjc1062's response:
    Hello, how is your daughter? I to have the same problem now. My daughter is 10 and it's been since July 16th. She has lost weight and doesn't look good under her eyes. I'm going through so many emotions right now. I get scared and then angry. I took her to a doctor and he said when she gets hungry she will eat. I'm so worried. Please tell me your daughter is doing good now. I need some hope. As a mom I'm so fearful. I just don't know what to.

    Thanks for your time.
    arysdad replied to momuv4girls's response:
    Hello! I recently noticed my daughter doing similar things,like chewing her food till it's liquefied and only wanting soft foods. She has choked on food before and ofcourse was scared! But she returned to normal eating habits. This chewing her food till its liquid kinda came outta nowhere. I asked her why she chews so much n she says she's scared of choking. I'm so scared for her and don't know what we should do? I'm making her a drs. Appt but till then should i just ignore her excessive chewing? She's only 5 and i don't want her to be scared of eating. Plz any other help or ideas would be so very appreciated thanks
    tina_deli replied to bailee10's response:
    Same here ladies except, my 8 year ols daughter witnessed a boy choking on his lunch at school and she is not eating good at ALL . Im very worried and scared.. I had to give her pedisures a couple of times because she did not finish her meals... Im hoping this passes another thing to mention is she has already began to lose weight
    tina_deli responded:
    How is your daughter now hun? My daughter is going through the same thing and im hoping this passes soon,
    carri3k replied to tina_deli's response:
    Hey guys...I have a 4 year old who choked on a peppermint a few weeks ago and then a week later had a stomach bug which he had vomiting(he thought choking)...since then he will only eat oodles of noodles, powdered doughnuts and yogurt:(. Like yall I see the fear in his eyes when I try and make him eat, he cries and said mommy I choke! I feel so helpless and all the doctor says is he will eat when he gets hungry:/
    mskrista25 replied to carri3k's response:
    My daughter who is 4 had a tortilla chip scare almost 2 weeks ago. She went 4 days without eating ads only drank juice and milk. I know it wasn't right to scare tactic her but I threatened to take her to the dr. Who would poke her to find out what's wrong. She hates shots as most kids do. She ate a little that night. Cut up Mac and cheese. I got her eating that, spag o's cut up also, that's a fun one to do and I've just added pediasur and she will inhale gogurts. She is freaked out to eat andi feel helpless that I can't help her. I have been trying to reinforce her also by telling her that I will be right there when we try something else to eat but she's a stubborn one and hasn't budged either. I feel like im losing my mind slowly. I wish us all the best.
    carri3k replied to mskrista25's response:
    Well I finally got my 4 year old to eat mac and cheese and mini pancakes, he still eats the gogurt and I bought the squeeze fruit out of the baby section he loves the earths best banana, rasp, and rice! I have added infamil liquid is a slow process and I still have anxiety over the whole situation, I pray that he eventually forgets about the experience! He doesn't like anything in his mouth now:/.
    An_263315 responded:
    My grandson choked on food a few months back and his mother tried to help him first by hitting him on his back to try to dislodge the food he was in shear panic mode and could not make a single sound or breath. When that did not work she ended up trying the heimlich maneuver on him and it came out. Shortly after he stopped crying and settled down from the ordeal he started to eat again and choked a second time, can you believe that? He cried and was very upset over the whole incident, Well now he seems to be afraid to eat he says he cannot breath and eats with his mouth open and almost pants when he has food in his mouth. When he does eat he mostly takes real small bites and chews his food until it is liquid but sometimes we have caught him filling his mouth with big bites and then sneaking away to spit it in the toilet so he wont have to eat. He is a small thin boy and I am worried about his nutritional needs. Who knows what he is doing in school he looks so thin. What has worked for anyone else? Suggestions Please.
    tuclps replied to An_263315's response:
    Hi My son is 6.5 yrs and had a second, what he thought was a, choking incident on a chicken nugget a few weeks ago when my husband was at home with him, he was eating on his own (hello husband where were you?) and my son reported it got stuck and he thought he was going to die, I am assuming he tried to swallow a large piece and he felt hard to swallow and he panicked, this was preceded 18 mtns ago but a choking incident in a boiled sweet (again when I was not here and my husband was with him and gave him the lolly.) I don't know the facts but I know my son lost 2kg in weight due to him suddenly not eating after the sweet incidents it took a long time to get the weight back on and for hIm to start eating again. This recent event thought is worse because it builds in the negative experience already engrained in his mind. He now will not eat any of the things he usually likes, which are mostly soft, chicken meatballs, lasagna, sausages with the skins pulled off, toast etc. he has coeliac disease also so food choices are limited. He admits he is terrified of choking and sitting down to eat causes him to feel scared. This stress reaction then makes it impossible for him to eat as the adrenaline surges his mouth dries up, heaet rate increase etc, he undergoes a biological response to the fear. If we imagine the thing that terrifies us, for me heights, it is like someone pushing me to the edge of a cliff to admire the view and telling me it is ok you will be ok now enjoy the view, I wouldn't be able to do it due to my fear. Likewise my son is put going to start to eat again because I tell him he has to and I have had to ask husband to remove himself from the dinner table as he just thinks it is ridiculous and tells him off, again. It helpful.

    My strategies. Which worked before but. It after this last episode, were to not talk about with him, make softer food that I. Knew he would be more willing to try, make mealtimes nice and comfortable, not get disappointed or show it at least if he didnt eat and I ate the same foods as him.

    This time though I believe I need some professional interventional and that he has developed post traumatic feeding disorder which can occur after a traumatic choking incident. So we are going to take him to a child pyschologist who specialises in this type isf thing.

    The irony is that I have always had a choking phobia and have always told him to chew his food properly don't rush etc. I wonder sometimes. If I didn't say this too much.....

    I will let you know how I go with the pyschologist and am hoping he starts to enjoy food again, so stressful as a parent and sometimes I just want to shout but I know I have to keep calm,
    An_262708 replied to An_263315's response:
    Still going through this?contact Dr Double of final solution spell temple... he can help you get a permanent solution to your illness. his email address is (

    Helpful Tips

    Not as easy as some make it out by simply being the boss.
    Feeding therapy ideas and resources ... The phrase " oral aversion " describes the avoidance or fear of eating, drinking, or accepting ... More
    Was this Helpful?
    1 of 1 found this helpful

    Expert Blog

    Child Health 411 - Ari Brown, MD

    Educated parents are empowered parents! Get clear answers to your parenting questions from Dr. Ari Brown...Read More

    Related Drug Reviews

    • Drug Name User Reviews

    Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

    FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.