Vomiting in Children - What You Should Know

  • Vomiting most commonly is the response to many viral infections. It is messy and uncomfortable, but usually only lasts about 12-24 hours.
  • The primary concern in kids is prevention of dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration would be any one of the following:
    • Tearless crying
    • Sticky mouth inside (should normally be wet and slippery)
    • No urine output for > 8 hours for infants, > 12 hours for toddler-adult

(If any one of the above symptoms is present the child needs to be taken to ER)

  • Kids with vomiting should not be given any fluids until the vomiting has stopped for an hour. Forcing fluids too soon can actually make the vomiting worse. After an hour with no vomiting offer the child only one tablespoon of a clear fluid like Pedialyte or diluted Gatorade (no fruit juice) every 10 min. This is the best first step to maintain adequate hydration. If the child vomits again, stop the fluids and wait an hour and try again. If no further vomiting occurs in an hour with giving small amounts of fluid, then double the fluid volume offered every 10 min.
  • If fluids are tolerated for 2-4 hours and your child is asking for something to eat start offering bland starchy solids or bananas or applesauce. If your infant is acting hungry you can offer formula or breast milk but only half the usual amount to start with.
  • Vomiting is often followed by diarrhea, or sometimes even preceded by it. See advice for diarrhea.
  • Stomach aches are associated with vomiting, but should "come in waves" and be somewhat relieved (for a short time at least) with vomiting.
  • Frequent hand washing is important to limit the spread of illness.

Call your child's health care provider or have your child seen if:

  • Any signs of dehydration occur (see above)
  • Frequent and consistent vomiting lasts > 24 hours
  • The vomit is bright fluorescent green in color
  • There is continuous abdominal pain for more than 2 hours
  • Your child vomits an essential medicine
  • Fever higher than 105 or between 100.3-105 for longer than 72 hours
  • This information did not help and you are concerned

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