Vomiting in Children

Vomiting is a way our bodies react to contaminated substances. Vomiting in kids happens for many reasons. In most cases, vomiting is caused by an infection of the digestive tract (gastroenteritis), but it may also be a result of other illnesses, stress, or motion sickness.  

Acute gastroenteritis, also known as the “stomach flu”, is usually caused by viruses, and it is not a dangerous health condition. However, vomiting can often be accompanied by diarrhea, so children can become dehydrated if they don’t take in enough fluids. This causes kids’ bodies to lose nutrients and water, which may lead to further illness.

Giving a child oral rehydration to prevent dehydration is crucial for a quick recovery. 

What Helps a Child Stop Vomiting?

Whether it is a bug or motion sickness, there are some universal ways to help your child stop vomiting:

  • Encourage the child to take plenty of fluids to help prevent dehydration. However, let them sip the fluids slowly, taking small sips. 
  • Offer dry, bland food like crackers, toast, or rice, as these foods help absorb stomach acids. But, slowly introduce solid foods after no vomiting for about 8 hours. 
  • Encourage the child to try deep breathing techniques by breathing air slowly through their nose and into their lungs and stomach. Show them how to exhale slowly through their mouths and encourage them to repeat this several times. 
  • Keep the child lying on their side to avoid the chance of them inhaling vomit into their lungs. 

When Should I Take My Child to The Doctor for Vomiting?

Any vomiting in children that lasts more than one day requires a consultation with the child’s doctor. Take your child to a doctor if vomiting doesn’t stop after 24 hours or/and if the child has a high fever, stiff neck, and severe abdominal pain. Also, you should contact your child’s physician if the child has a severe headache, blurred vision, deep, rapid breathing, doesn’t pee for 6-8 hours, and it is unable to keep food or liquids down for 12 hours.  

If vomiting occurs in an infant, call a doctor for any of the following rehydration signs:

  • Dry lips
  • Crying with a few or no tears at all
  • Less than for wet diapers during a day
  • Soft spot on baby’s head that looks sunken 
  • Not waking up for feeding

What Causes Sudden Vomiting in Children?

Acute vomiting starts suddenly and quickly gets worse. However, it usually lasts a short time. In addition to infections of the digestive tract, some of the most common reasons why kids suddenly start vomiting include:

  • Food poisoning
  • Head trauma
  • Motion sickness
  • Food allergy
  • Appendicitis

Infections other than “stomach flu”, such as a urinary tract infection or more severe infections like pneumonia or meningitis.

What Can You Give a Child for Upset Stomach and Vomiting?

Kids lose lots of fluid through vomiting and diarrhea, so it’s important to replace them as soon as possible with small amounts of liquid. This will replace water and nutrients that the child loses while throwing up. 

The best liquids that prevent dehydration are oral rehydration solutions or oral electrolyte solutions. These solutions help kids stay hydrated because they contain the right balance of fluids and minerals. 

While oral rehydration solutions are available in drugstores and supermarkets, over-the-counter medications to treat nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are not recommended for babies and young children. If you are concerned that your child is at risk of dehydration, call your doctor for specific oral rehydration instructions and advice on the best solution to give your child. 

Offer small, frequent amounts (about 2 teaspoons) of an oral electrolyte solution every 15-20 minutes with an oral syringe or spoon.

In older children, offer small amounts of clear liquids frequently. In addition to unflavored and flavored oral electrolyte solutions, these may include water or ice chips, juice, gelatin desserts, or soups.

Your doctor may also recommend medications to treat nausea and vomiting. However, these are available only by prescription.

Why is My Child Vomiting at Night?

Sometimes, not getting enough food can be the cause of unexplained vomiting in the middle of the night. If your otherwise healthy child starts throwing up in the middle of the night, this may be caused by low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. This is often seen in children aged nine months to five years. 

The carbohydrates and the other food we eat converts into glucose that provides energy in the body. If a child goes to bed without dinner, they may develop low blood glucose and vomit. This condition is known as ketotic hypoglycemia. 

You can avoid the recurrence of hypoglycemic attacks by offering your child snacks rich in slow sugars, also called complex carbohydrates, particularly at bedtime. 

If your child’s vomiting doesn’t get better or is accompanied by nausea, diarrhea, or bloody stool, call your doctor. Luckily, however, vomiting can be relieved with lots of hydration, lots of rest, and lots of love.



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