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3 year old gagging over smells and seeing "yucky" things

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Normal?  And normal or not, how do I help him?  My son is 3, but has always had a sensitive gag reflex.  When we started solids he often gagged on purees.  He doesn't gag on food anymore though.  (fingers crossed).  Even if he doesn't like something he'll just spit it out, without gagging, but I am always very quick to get it out of his mouth, so maybe we're just getting it out quickly enough to avoid gagging.  However, he gags at smells ALL THE TIME.  Dog poop, his brother's diapers (even if they just have pee), generally yucky smells. And now, its become he's gaging on things he sees that I guess he perceives as gross.  Yesterday it was his brother pulling bits of chewed food out of his mouth, and today it was seeing chocolate on his brother's leg.  He even said between gags "mama, Will has chocolate on his leg" and I had to wipe it up immediately.  


He does NOT like to be messy, doesn't like messes on his hands or clothes.  But he doesn't seem to have too much of a problem with other sensory things.  He never complains about clothes (except button down shirts, but I don't blame him) and when he was learning to walk, he wouldn't walk or crawl in grass, but now he's fine with it.  He doesn't like loud noises, but doesn't freak about them either, he just covers his ears and says "its too loud!"  He certainly doesn't like "chaos" - won't play at the playground where there's lots of other kids, but I was chalking that up to his personality - I'm the same way.  I prefer one on one time to a crowd, etc.  


Anyway, I want him to be able to control things he finds disgusting.  I want him to stop gagging, and I want him to be a kid and enjoy everything!  Is this something he will grow out of?  Is this something we need to work on?  Anyone with a similar situation?  I hate seeing him gag.  

post #2 of 6

Are you reacting to the gagging? If so, try ignoring it completely for awhile.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by BubblingBrooks View Post

Are you reacting to the gagging? If so, try ignoring it completely for awhile.

Not particularly.  I try to remain as calm as possible and remove him from the situation (if its a smell) or tell him whatever he thinks is yucky really isn't.  I see what you are saying, but I think its truly involuntary.  

post #4 of 6


I just came across this post when I searched for gagging in 3 year old. You are the first and only person I've come across with a story

similar to mine. My son turns 3 later this month. He used to gag just with food- if he thought the bite was "too big" or just "yucky". Then, shortly after turning 2 he started to gag when he saw something he perceived as "yucky". We were at an art class and

he gagged when he saw them put food coloring on shaving cream! He gags when he sees other kids with messy faces from eating,

or from shoving food in their mouths. He doesn't like to be dirty (sticky fingers particularly gets him upset). He couldn't stand the

feeling of sand for months, but he's gotten over that and now enjoys the beach. He too covers his ears sometimes when he thinks

a noise is too loud- but it doesn't get him terribly upset. Otherwise, he is completely like any other 3 year old boy. He talks, plays,

eats, and sleeps well. I know it has been years since you posted this, but I'm wondering if your son outgrew it or if you found out any more about this. The only other things I can find on-line have to do with kids who gag only with food or medicine. The main issue

for me is his gagging over seeing "yucky" things. Thanks for any feedback!

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 



My son is 4 now and doing much better with this.  He used to do the same thing with other messy faces, especially his little brother's.  Even if his brother had food on his clothes or hands, my son would gag.  He's still sensitive to smells, and same as your son, does not like messy hands.  Even if he's going to keep getting his hands messy during a project or eating, and I tell him we'll clean up when we're all done, its like he can't move on until his hands are clean again.  He hasn't gagged at a smell in a while, and no longer gag's at his brother's messy face.  Unfortunately my younger son likes to take huge bites and then spit out food, and that will make my older son gag, but usually we get a warning, and I just tell him to look away.  The only thing he's gagged on in recent months is food, particularly chicken.  Or, occasionally if he puts too big a piece in his mouth of something.  


I guess, long story short, he has gotten better.  I am pretty confident he'll outgrow it all together at some point.  Good luck with your son, he sounds very similar to mine.  I think some kids are just more sensitive to sensory things than others.  smile.gif

post #6 of 6

I'm glad to hear that it has lessened with time. Hopefully that will happen with my son as well. At least

it doesn't sound like anything I need to be overly concerned with. It was a relief to find out that someone

else had a similar experience-so thanks for sharing!

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