First Aid: Vomiting

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First Aid

Vomiting can be caused by many things, most commonly gastroenteritis (the "stomach flu"). Vomiting can cause kids to lose fluids, salts, and minerals, so it's important to make sure these are replaced.

What to Do

1. Do not feed milk products or solid foods to a child who has been vomiting.

2. Give small amounts of fluid:

  • For babies: about 1 tablespoon (tbsp.) of oral electrolyte solution (ORS) every 15-20 minutes; shorter but more frequent breastfeeding
  • For kids: 1-2 tbsp. every 15 minutes of ORS, ice chips, flat ginger ale or lemon-lime soda, clear broth, ice pops, or diluted juice

If your child vomits again, wait 20-30 minutes and start over.

3. Gradually increase the amount of fluids once there's no vomiting for 3 to 4 hours.

4. After 8 hours without vomiting:

  • For babies: breastfeed as usual and, if used, gradually reintroduce formula (1-2 ounces)
  • For kids: serve bland foods (rice, applesauce, toast, cereal, crackers)

5. Resume regular diet after 24 hours without vomiting. Call the doctor if it starts again.

Seek Medical Care

If:

Vomiting is accompanied by:

  • signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, sunken eyes, decrease in urination (peeing)
  • inability to keep clear fluids down
  • vomit that's greenish-yellow, looks like coffee grounds, or contains blood
  • a hard, bloated, or painful abdomen (belly)
  • extreme irritability
  • swelling, redness, or pain in a boy's scrotum
  • projectile or forceful vomiting in a newborn

Think Prevention!

  • Wash hands well and often, especially before cooking or eating and after touching raw meat or going to the bathroom.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with a stomach bug.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014



Related Resources

OrganizationPediatric/Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER) PAGER is a nonprofit organization that provides information and support to parents, patients, and doctors about gastroesophageal reflux (GER).
OrganizationChildren's Digestive Health and Nutrition Foundation (CDHNF) The CDHNF website provides information on gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
OrganizationNorth American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) NASPGHAN works to help children and adolescents with digestive disorders.


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Fever and Taking Your Child's Temperature Although it can be frightening when your child's temperature rises, fever itself causes no harm and can actually be a good thing - it's often the body's way of fighting infections.
Vomiting Most vomiting is caused by gastroenteritis, and usually isn't serious. These home-care tips can help prevent dehydration.
A to Z: Gastroenteritis Gastroenteritis is an infection that causes vomiting and diarrhea.
Food Poisoning Sometimes, germs can get into food and cause food poisoning. Find out what to do if your child gets food poisoning - and how to prevent it.
Dehydration Sometimes kids lose fluids and salts through fever, diarrhea, vomiting, or long periods of exercise with excessive sweating. Here are some tips on preventing or treating dehydration.
Pyloric Stenosis Pyloric stenosis is a condition that can cause your baby to vomit forcefully and often and may cause other problems such as dehydration and salt and fluid imbalances.
Severe Morning Sickness (Hyperemesis Gravidarum) Bouts of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are considered normal. But when they're so severe that a woman can't keep foods down, she and her baby's health are at risk.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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