A guide for parents and caregivers on vomiting
What is vomiting?
Vomiting occurs most commonly when children are nauseous from a stomach bug or food poisoning. Babies can vomit, or spit up, very often. It can also occur in the setting of ear infections, migraines, and even severe cough (when children cough so much they can gag and vomit.)
What you need to know
Vomiting is very common in infants and children, and is often not a medical emergency. Most infectious causes of vomiting resolve within 24 hours without any intervention. The most important thing while a child is actively nauseated or vomiting is to prevent severe dehydration. Very frequently, vomiting precedes diarrhea.
How you can help
If a child is vomiting non-stop, don’t give them anything to eat or drink until they can go an hour or so without vomiting; then try very small sips of water or Pedialyte. Since distending the stomach will provoke vomiting, do not give them large volumes of liquids at once, even if they are dehydrated. For babies, this can mean giving 5 or 10 ml of liquid via syringe at a time.
Unfortunately, no over-the-counter medicines will reduce vomiting.
When to contact your doctor
In some instances, vomiting requires medical attention. If your child meets any of the criteria below, they need to be seen by a doctor the same day.
Significant vomiting for more than 24 hours
Unable to keep down small sips of clear liquids
Vomiting and fever >101
Small streaks of blood in emesis
Projectile vomiting (more than 1 foot) in an infant 3m and younger
If any of the following happen, seek immediate medical care at the Emergency Room:
Bilious vomiting (highlighter yellow or pine tree green vomiting)
Severe dehydration: no urination in more than 8 hours, lethargy, not making eye contact, unable to get out of bed or walk
Severe abdominal pain and vomiting