Childr Health Information

Barium Swallow

Print this page Bookmark and Share

Topic: Tests & Procedures

Welcome to Dayton Children’s. Your child is going to have a barium swallow. It is very important for both you and your child to be prepared for the procedure. Being prepared will help you get your child ready for the test and support him/her through it. The information in this handout describes the barium swallow. It is designed to answer your questions and help you explain the test to your child. This information does not replace information given to you by your physician or other members of your child’s health care team.

What is a barium swallow?
A barium swallow is an x-ray test to look at the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube, which connects the mouth with the stomach. What happens during a barium swallow? Your child will be given a liquid and/or food mixed with barium, which may be flavored. The barium appears white when an x-ray picture is taken. It coats the parts of the mouth and throat used for eating and swallowing and makes them show up better on the x-ray picture. The x-ray doctor (radiologist) watches the barium move from the mouth into the stomach on a special x-ray television.

What will my child feel during the barium swallow?
Your child will not feel the x-ray camera taking pictures. This test does not cause pain. Your child may not like the taste of the liquid or food. It is very important for your child not to move during the test. We may use small sandbags, blanket wraps, and/or velcro safety belts to position your child. If your child moves, we may have to take the x-ray again.

How can I help prepare my child for the barium swallow?
When and how to prepare your child for a barium swallow depends on his/her age. For infants, no preparation is necessary, as long as you understand the procedure. Toddlers require very simple preparation and explanation just before the procedure begins. Older children require more detailed information in advance. Adolescents should be prepared far enough in advance to give them time to ask questions. When you arrive for your appointment, a staff member will discuss the procedure in an age appropriate way with your child. They will address any concerns that you or your child may have. Our goal is to decrease your child’s anxiety and make this a positive experience. Your child will be in the room about 30 minutes.

How can I help my child during the barium swallow?
Many times the mere presence of a parent or caregiver is enough to soothe a child. If your child has a special toy or blanket that provides a sense of security to them, please bring the item with you. Two parents are welcome in the room while we explain, discuss and perform the test. Other family members and pregnant women will be asked to wait in our waiting room. Many children benefit from distraction. You may bring a favorite picture book or simply talk to your child while the x-ray pictures are taken.

What happens after the barium swallow?
1) Give your child lots to drink today (water and juices are best).
2) Your child may have regular foods after the test is completed.
3) Your child’s bowel movements may be chalky white today and tomorrow. This is normal.
A report will be sent to your referring doctor, usually within a week. For further questions about this test, please call Dayton Children’s Medical Imaging Department: 937-641-3888 or 1-800-228-4055.

PDF: Child Health Information - Barium Swallow

Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).

La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.
Corregido: 2005

The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.

Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.
Revised: 2005


Sign up for Pediatric Link

Finding the latest trusted child health and safety information doesn't have to be hard. Pediatric Link, Dayton Children's e-newsletter offers timely and up-to-date information for health care professionals from the experts you trust at Dayton Children's.  Sign up

Upcoming Events

Fun family health fair

REGISTRATION: Sign up online at By mail: Fill out this entry form and mail with a check payable to Miamisburg High School to Miamisburg High School C/O Jenny Brockert 1860 Belvo Road Miamisburg, OH 45342 For more information all Jenny Brockert at (937) 866-0771 ext.1414 or email her at

Dayton Children’s cordially invites you to attend our upcoming state-wide pediatric trauma symposium. The symposium will be held at the Wyndham Hotel, Miamisburg, OH on April 25, 2014.

View full event calendarView full event calendar

The Right Experts

Just right for all kids


The Children's Medical Center of Dayton Dayton Children's
The Right Care for the Right Reasons

One Children's Plaza - Dayton, Ohio - 45404-1815