Martha is 4 months old, has quite rotten active reflux and is bigger than your average 4 month old, having just gone into 6-9 month trousers *sob*. We’re in a quandary about whether to wean or not, because on the surface she’s a prime candidate for early weaning but there are other factors.

Breastfeeding and Gagging

Martha has been exclusively breastfed from birth and resolutely refuses a bottle. I’m happy to continue breastfeeding and the whole question of solids has nothing to do with that, but part of why she won’t take a bottle has to do with her rather over active gag reflex.

Medicine, bottles, teething aids, fingers and even sometimes breasts all make Martha gag and projectile vomit. Breastfeeding doesn’t cause this for the most part, but if I offer her a feed and she’s not actually hungry then she’ll gag without having even latched on and we both end up covered in puke!

We did recently try giving Martha some baby porridge and if it wasn’t really watery then the moment she tried to swallow the first mouthful the entire contents of her tummy was immediately – and forcefully – ejected. She loved the porridge when it was very thin, so I think she would enjoy food, but can her body cope with it?

First taste of baby porridge

First taste of baby porridge

Reflux

Martha has active reflux so as well as the gag induced vomit, anyone or anything within a foot or two radius of our gorgeous girl will find themselves at risk of being puked over at any given point in the day.

I cut dairy out of my diet for a month or so when Martha was tiny and it didn’t make any difference, so the paediatric consultant is pretty sure that the cause is an underdeveloped oesophagus as opposed to the allergies/intolerance that Toby had. This makes her a good candidate for early weaning because food will thicken her stomach contents and thus make it harder for it all to escape back up and out.

Interest In Food

Martha is suddenly obsessed with food! If she’s on my lap whilst I’m eating then she will grab whichever of my hands is holding my food and will try to pull it towards herself, mouth open ready to receive the good stuff! There’s no doubting that Martha feels ready to have food, but again it comes down to that gag reflex and whether her body is as ready as her mind.

Baby Led or Spoon Fed?

We combined baby led and spoon feeding weaning with Toby and it worked incredibly well. He’s not a big eater but will eat a huge variety of foods and some of his favourites include apples, eggs, broccoli, olives, roast dinners, noodles and sushi!

Toby loves his food!

Toby loves his food!

I really want to do the same with Martha but my concern is that if she is gagging and puking with almost every mouthful then she will start to associate food with that discomfort and potentially have a negative relationship with eating. I think one of the reasons why breastfeeding is going to well is because she doesn’t seem to experience reflux pain during feeds, whereas Toby did and our breastfeeding relationship was tumultuous at best.

To Wean or Not To Wean?

The reasons to go for it are:

  • Helping with the reflux
  • She seems ready
  • Advised to by the consultant

The reasons to wait are:

  • The gag/vomit issue
  • Potentially risking a negative association with food
  • She is putting weight on and seems fine on breast milk still

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Come on then guys, help me out! Have you weaned early? Have you had similar experiences with a baby who gags very easily? Let me know what you did and how your baby got on in the comments below, or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.