Doctor Betti
Dr. Betti Hertzberg Ressler is a Board Certified Pediatrician on staff at Miami Children's Hospital. Dr. Hertzberg developed the toilet training video "Let's Go Potty." She is the co-author of "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Children."

Baby Gags Herself

Question: My 4 month old "gags" herself with her hand and makes herself throw up. How can I stop her? - Liz

Answer: It's quite amazing that a 3 month is able to make themselves regurgitate. But you've seen it happen, right in front of your eyes!

The important thing at this time is to note the reaction of your child. She definitely is noting your reaction! Rumination, as it is called, can start as early as this time. It is a habit that can last for a long time if it is not halted.

The reaction that your child gets (from you) after a vomiting episode is what will encourage the behavior to continue. It may have started out as "an accident," but if mom "reacts," and attention is the result, why not continue?

If you could, after feeding your baby, try some distraction with other activities. A soft toy or other colorful object may get enough attention away from putting a hand in the mouth!

Try not to overreact if the baby throws up. Be very calm and continue doing what you normally do during feeding time. Clean up and continue! Remember! Do not exhibit any emotion. If it happens, clean up and continue on as you did before the episode.

At any age, a fist or any object will definitely cause one to gag. As long as you see that it happens only when the hand gets in the way, try the "ignore tactic."

If this behavior continues, let your pediatrician know. Perhaps, he or she has some other suggestions.

Also see:

  • Breastfeeding when baby isn't hungry?
  • Can a pediatrician comfortably prescribe and manage ADHD medication or is it better suited to a psychiatrist?
  • Ask Dr. Betti your questions

    This information is not intended to be a substitute for visiting your pediatrician. If you or your child has specific concerns, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.