Why Is My Toddler Sticking His Fingers Down His Throat?

Before we go into details, let’s make a few things clear.

If your toddler has been sticking his fingers down his throat, there’s a high chance it’s one of those gross behaviors usually exhibited by infants.

On the flip side, however, it could be a call for help.

Perhaps the baby must’ve swallowed something hard or too big, and it’s stuck in his throat.

Or maybe his throat is just itching.

So as far as anyone can tell, those are the major reasons infants stick fingers down their throats.

But in most cases, it’s usually the reason for gross behavior – may be craving for attention or just feeling like doing it.

However, most parents, especially mothers, are uncomfortable with seeing their babies sticking fingers down their throats.

This could even make some parents panic, putting them on edge.

And we understand how disturbing it seems.

So, we’re hoping that this guide will help parents understand why toddlers usually stick fingers down their throats.

Is It Normal For My Toddler To Stick His Fingers Down His Throat?

Naturally, it is normal for infants to stick their fingers down their throats.

It could result from eating something they dislike or feeling some discomfort.

Babies growing into adulthood do this a lot because life seems to be an adventure for them at that point, and they’re still trying to understand certain aspects of themselves and their environment.

Unarguably, it is one of the typical attitudes that could be classified under some annoying behaviors exhibited during infancy.

Babies sticking fingers down their throats is normal, and there should be no cause for alarm.

But as an adult, you should understand that such behaviors might not be healthy as they have implications.

Babies are too young to understand that.

They do not know what they do and only learn if it’s right or wrong by watching how you react.

Most toddlers crave the opportunity to explore, communicate their feelings better and try out something new.

So, once they realize that sticking their fingers into their throat causes the parent or caregiver to raise an alarm, their interests get stimulated, and they tend to do it often.

They are determined to explore any finding in its full form, even if it’s pretty unpleasant for them.

What Causes Toddlers To Stick Their Fingers Down Their Throats?

Sometimes, a baby sticking his fingers into his throat happens during mealtime.

Urging your baby to eat more than he should and, in some cases eating what he doesn’t like could cause the gag reflex.

This reflex action could be either a technique to gain attention or just a reaction to show rejection of whatever it is he’s not comfortable with.

In some rare cases, it can be related to silent reflux, chronic nausea, food allergy, or other digestive and stomach disorders.

In trying out this reflex action, a baby can be interested in continuing the act because it relieves him.

Such discovery connects easily and grows into a habit if not appropriately handled.

Feeling worried and concerned about the gag reflex is normal and appropriate because if care is not taken, it can lead to a more severe issue.

Once your baby discovers that gagging attracts attention, they often use it.

Over time, it can become a bad habit that is difficult to break, so it is necessary to apply all possible measures to prevent this act from evolving into a habit.

Another reason infants could stick their fingers down their throats is when they have something stuck in their throats.

Perhaps they’ve just swallowed one of the objects around them, like their toy, and it got stuck in their throat.

That’s when you see them sticking their fingers in their throat, struggling to help themselves, and making choking sounds.

Babies are fond of putting everything within their reach into their mouths.

This explains why parents must always closely watch babies, especially when they start crawling – then they could easily access threatening situations by themselves, and you might not be alert to stop them.

Unfortunately, there is no direct way to stop a child from gagging or displaying any other unlikely behavior. Still, the good thing is that there is always at least one solution to a common problem.

Are There Preventive Measures To Take In Trying To Stop Such Behavior?

Yes, there is. Indeed, a baby sticking his fingers into his mouth is purely behavioral, and getting worried at such a time might not be necessary.

I would not call it preventive measures per se because some infants are so smart and curious that they don’t rest until they’ve done what they feel like doing.

At this point, the reasonable way to stop that might not be to display dramatic and loud behavior.

The results could be better with a calm and tender attitude towards them.

To further stop this, you can restrain your baby from carrying out such behavior by learning how not to overfeed, knowing the type of food they dislike, and keeping their hands busy with children’s play toys and other things that are safe to put in the mouth.

On the other hand, you should try not to respond to the coughing with so much panic as instead of making the baby stop could ignite the sensation more in the baby, causing him to do more.

Some parents are prone to quickly raising a hand to spank the baby on the bum, but this might not be the best disciplinary action because some toddlers will cry and still repeat the same thing.

Not because they’re stubborn but because some don’t even understand why you spanked them in the first place.

That’s why spanking can’t be the best approach to such situations.

Another way to do this is by maintaining control of their hand movements.

Note, this doesn’t mean you should be overbearing about it, but instead, try playing with their hands when you notice that they are about to be taken to the mouth or try to make them clap.

The aim is to keep their hands busy and off their mouths as gently as possible.

Remember, how you handle this behavior put up by your infant can make or mar your success story in helping them overcome this habit.

If you try to force it, you will end up causing harm to the baby, which can result in the baby vomiting or crying, and the consequential stress on your baby is something you wouldn’t love to happen.

Regarding buying toys for your baby, don’t buy them toys that their mouth can contain– most babies try to swallow their toy, leading to one of those choking moments and sticking their fingers down their throat.

Not just about toys; also, ensure that every little object around your baby is kept out of reach because once they get a hold of anything that can fit into their mouth, the rest is history.


We can’t exactly stop infants from doing what they want.

But we can always help control the situation, leveraging our superior understanding as adults.

As a parent or caregiver, always watch any baby in your care because things happen quickly with babies.

In the case of toddlers sticking fingers down their throats, it’s clear it happens for various reasons, including harmless and dangerous ones.

That said, if you observe an infant exhibiting such behavior, it’s essential to ascertain the actual reason it’s happening to see if it’s something that needs a medical practitioner.

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