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Vomiting

What is vomiting?

Oftentimes, parents have difficulty distinguishing the difference between vomiting and reflux. Vomiting is the forceful emptying of a large amount of stomach content through an individual's mouth. Powerful contractions against the closed-stomach outlet will cause someone to "throw up." Reflux is the effortless spitting up of a small amount of stomach content. Reflux is often seen in infants under the age of one.

What is the cause?

There are various things that might cause vomiting. One common cause of vomiting is a viral infection in the stomach. When a child is vomiting due to a virus, more often than not, your child will also have diarrhea. Your child might also be vomiting because they ate something that disagreed with their stomach. If your child has been vomiting without diarrhea and it lasts more than 24 hours, speak with your child's pediatrician to ensure your child does not have something more serious.

How long does it last?

In most cases, your child will stop vomiting within 6 to 24 hours. To help your child, changing their diet might prevent excessive vomiting and dehydration. Though the vomiting will stop within 24 hours, diarrhea might persist for several days.

How can I take care of my child?

Avoid solid food. Give your child small amounts of clear fluids for 8 hours.

Give your child small amounts of clear fluid until your child has not vomited for 8 hours. Do not give your child milk. For infants under the age of one, give them an oral electrolyte solution. We recommend Pedialyte or Kao Lectrolyte. To give help hydrate your infant, spoon or syringe feed them one teaspoon (5 ml) every five minutes. If you do not have an oral electrolyte solution, you can give your infant formula in the same manner. This one-swallow-at-a-time spoonfed approach rarely fails. For a child over the age of one that is vomiting but is not dealing with diarrhea, give them water. Water is the best fluid because it will quickly be absorbed by the stomach wall. For children over the age of two, water is the best choice. Your child might also drink lemon-lime soda or suck on a Popsicle. If you are giving your child soda, be sure to stir the soda to remove the carbonation. The air bubbles will expand your child's stomach and might cause increased vomiting. 

Give your child bland food after 8 hours without vomiting 

After your child has gone 8 hours without vomiting, they can begin eating solids again. For infants, we suggest starting with a mild food like cereal. If the baby only takes formula, simply reduce the amount 1 or 2 ounces less per feeding than usual. Children over the age of two could eat bland food like saltine crackers, cereals, white bread, or mashed potatoes. In most cases, your child can return to their normal diet after 24 hours after recovery from vomiting.

Diet for breastfed babies 

To help your child recover, it is important to give your child smaller amounts of breast milk. If your child vomits once, keep going. If your child vomits twice, continue breastfeeding but nurse on only one side for 10 minutes. Do this once every 90 minutes. If your child vomits more than tree times, nurse for 4 to 5 minutes every 45 minutes. 

After 8 hours have passed without vomiting, you may begin nursing on both sides like normal. Pedialyte and Kao Lectrolyte are rarely needed for breastfed babies. If your child's vomiting does not stop, you may give your child Pedialyte for 4 hours. In this case, you will spoon or syringe feed 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of Pedialyte every 5 minutes. If your baby is not urinating like normal, giving them an electrolyte solution between breastfeedings might help their urination return to normal.

Medicines 

If your child has been vomiting, refrain from giving them medicine orally for 8 hours. These types of medicine might irritate your child's stomach. If your child has a fever over 102°F (39°C), use acetaminophen suppositories. If your child needs to take prescription medicine, discuss treatment with a pediatrician. 

Common mistakes in the treatment of vomiting

Parents will often give their child too much fluid too fast. Too much fluid often leads to continued vomiting. Additionally, the only way to stop vomiting is diet therapy. There is no medication that can treat or suppress vomiting. 

When should I call Idaho Falls Pediatrics?

Call IMMEDIATELY if:

  • Your child shows any signs of dehydration (such as no urine in over 8 hours, very dry mouth, no tears when crying). 
  • Your child vomits up blood, green or black fluid. 
  • Your child vomits over a prolonged period AND has watery diarrhea. 
  • Your child is confused or difficult to awaken. 
  • Your child starts acting very sick. 

Call during office hours if:

  • The vomiting continues for more than 24 hours if your child is under age 2 years or 48 hours if over age 2. 
  • You have other concerns or questions. 

*NOTE: This information is provided as a public educational service. The information does not replace any of the instructions your physician gives you. If you have a medical emergency please call 911 or call the Hospital at (208) 529-6111. If you have questions about your child's care, please call Idaho Falls Pediatrics at (208) 522-4600.