Vomiting, or “throwing up,” is the powerful emptying of a large portion of the stomach’s contents through the mouth. When the stomach experiences strong contractions against a closed stomach outlet, vomiting is a result. On the other hand, the effortless spitting up of one to two mouthfuls of stomach contents is called regurgitation. Regurgitation is common among babies less than 1 year old.
What causes vomiting?
Generally, a viral infection in the lining of the stomach causes vomiting, or if something your child eats disagrees with him/her. If your child has a viral infection, diarrhea usually also occurs.
How long does it last?
Vomiting usually ceases within 6-24 hours. Changing your child’s diet can usually speed up recovery. If diarrhea is also present, it will usually last for several days.
How can you take care of your child?
- Offer small amounts of clear liquids (not milk) until eight hours have passed without vomiting. Always use an oral electrolyte solution, such as Pedialyte or Kao Lectrolyte, for children under 1 year old. For babies, spoon feed one teaspoon every five minutes. For children over 1 year of age who are vomiting, but do not have diarrhea, water or ice chips is the best fluid to offer because water can be directly absorbed across the stomach wall. For children 2 years old and older, water is still the best, but half-strength lemon-lime soda or Popsicles are suitable.
Depending on your child’s age, start with one teaspoon to one tablespoon of clear fluid every five minutes. Once four hours have passed with no vomiting, double the amount after each hour for the next four hours.
- After eight hours have passed with no vomiting, offer bland foods, gradually returning to a normal diet. If your baby is only taking formula, reduce the feeding by one to two ounces. Older children can start with saltine crackers, cereals, white bread, chicken noodle soup and mashed potatoes. Normally, children are back to a normal diet within 24 hours after recovering from vomiting.
- If you are breastfeeding try to provide breast milk in smaller amounts. If your baby vomits once, no change in diet is necessary. If twice, nurse only on one side for about 10 minutes every couple of hours. If your baby vomits three times or more, nurse every 30-60 minutes for four to five minutes at a time. You can return to normal nursing on both sides once vomiting has subsided for longer than eight hours.
Breast-fed babies rarely need Pedialyte or Kao Lectrolyte. You can switch to Pedialyte if vomiting continues for more than four hours. Spoon-feed one to two teaspoons every five minutes. Another time to offer Pedialyte is if your baby is urinating less frequently. Than, offer a small amount between breast feedings.
- Medicines should not be given to your child by mouth for eight hours. They can irritate the stomach and make vomiting worse. If a fever is present, use acetaminophen suppositories. If your child is taking a prescription medicine already, please contact us.
- A common mistake in treating vomiting is giving as much clear fluid to your child as possible rather than gradually. This actually can lead to continued vomiting.
Diet therapy is the most effective treatment for vomiting. Drug or suppository treatment is not effective. Dehydration is rarely an issue if your child is only vomiting.
When should you call our office?
CALL IMMEDIATELY if:
- There are signs of dehydration (no urinating in over eight hours, dry mouth, tearless crying)
- Your child vomits blood
- Your child vomits clear fluids more than two times AND has watery diarrhea
- Your child begins to act very sick
CALL DURING OFFICE HOURS if:
- Vomiting continues for more than 24 hours if your child is under two
- Vomiting continues for more than 48 hours if your child is over two
- You have any questions or concerns