Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of the contents of one’s stomach through the mouth.
Vomiting is common in children.
Often vomiting occurs along with diarrhea and is caused by a virus. Other infections, excitement and coughing may also cause vomiting. Gastroesophageal reflux can also cause vomiting.
Vomiting can cause dehydration or “drying out”, which can be very serious. Dehydration happens when your child loses too much liquid.
Early signs and symptoms of dehydration include:
- Child has not urinated in 6 hours (babies usually have 6-8 wet diapers in 24 hours)
- Child is less active than normal or is unusually sleepy
- Child’s urine is dark yellow and may smell strong like ammonia
- Child’s mouth is dry and sticky
Later signs of dehydration include:
- Baby’s “soft spot” is sunken
- Child’s eyes are sunken
- Child has no energy and is difficult to wake up
- Child has a fever
To keep your child from becoming dehydrated, it is important to give your child liquids.
After vomiting, infants should drink:
- Breast milk
- Infalyte® (do not add water to dilute Infalyte)
- Pedialyte® (do not add water to dilute Pedialyte)
To ensure infants get enough liquid, breastfeed more often and for a shorter amount of time. For example, breastfeed every half hour for 10 minutes on 1 breast. After 2 or 3 hours, if this is tolerated well, return to your normal breastfeeding schedule. If you are bottle feeding, start with Pedialyte or Infalyte. Give 1 ounce every half hour for 2 or 3 hours. If the baby takes this well, return to normal feedings with regular strength formula, giving only 1-2 ounces at a time. If the infant does not have vomiting after 8 hours, you can try to resume his/her normal formula feeding routine. If vomiting continues, offer 2 or 3 ounces of Pedialyte or Infalyte after each time the baby vomits. Continue feedings with regular formula or breast milk.
After vomiting, older children should have:
- Gatorade® (Check with your child’s doctor about other sports drinks. They may not be right for your child.)
- Caffeine-free tea
- Popsicles — regular or Pedialyte
To ensure older children remain hydrated, give liquids in small amounts and frequently. For example, give 1 or 2 ounces every half hour. If your child takes this well, increase the amount a little every half hour. If your child vomits, decrease the amount of liquid for the next feeding and then try to slowly increase the amount again with every feeding after that. Slowly advance the diet to a regular diet. Greasy foods and foods high in sugar should be added slowly because they may increase vomiting.
Foods to start with:
- Plain crackers
Foods to avoid until the vomiting ends:
- Fruit juice
- Dairy products
- Fried foods
Warning: Do not use any medication for your baby or child unless your child’s doctor tells you to give it to him/her. Medications that are good for adults or older children can be dangerous for babies or small children.
Call your child’s doctor if:
- Your child shows any signs of dehydration
- Your child has green or bloody vomit
- Your child experiences severe stomach pain (babies may be very irritable and cry a lot)
- Vomiting lasts more than 6 hours