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First Aid & Emergencies

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Vomiting (Children)

Call 911 if:

  • The child is vomiting and may have swallowed something poisonous.

  • The child is vomiting and may have swallowed something poisonous.

When a child spits up or vomits it can be messy and worrying. But it's usually not a cause for alarm.

Call Doctor If Your Child:

  • Is vomiting frequently
  • Spits up or vomits strongly
  • Spits up more than one or two tablespoons of milk
  • Spits up brown, red, or green liquid
  • Does not gain weight
  • Wets fewer diapers than usual
  • Is sluggish or very tired
  • Has a fever higher than 102 Fahrenheit
  • Has blood in vomit or stools
  • Is vomiting and crying without tears
  • Has diarrhea more than once a day

When Baby Spits Up

1. For Baby Spitting Up

  • Spitting up is common until babies start eating solid foods. It's not the same as vomiting.
  • Spitting up usually happens when babies burp.

2. Prevent Spitting Up

  • Feed the baby in an upright position.
  • Feed smaller amounts more often, and burp the baby every 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Avoid putting pressure on the baby's stomach when burping the baby over your shoulder.
  • Avoid moving the baby a lot during and right after feeding.

Treating Your Child for Vomiting

Vomiting is more forceful and painful than spitting up. Vomiting can cause a child to lose fluids, so it's important to watch for dehydration.

1. Treat Symptoms of Vomiting

  • Give fluids in small amounts. If the child vomits afterward, wait 20 to 30 minutes and give the fluids again. If a child has vomited two or more times, call your doctor.
  • If your infant is breastfeeding, continue to nurse your baby.
  • Your doctor may want you to give your baby small amounts of oral electrolyte solution. Check the amount with your doctor.
  • Give toddlers about one tablespoon of oral electrolyte solution, ice chips, diluted juice, or clear broth every 15 minutes. If your child continues to vomit, call your doctor.

2. Watch for Signs of Dehydration

  • Call your doctor if you see any of these signs: dry mouth, crying without tears, dry diapers, urine that is very dark, sunken soft spot on the top of the head.

3. After 3 to 4 Hours Without Vomiting

  • Give your child larger amounts of fluid.

4. After 8 Hours Without Vomiting:

  • Breastfeed babies as usual and slowly start giving formula.
  • Feed toddlers mild foods in their regular diet; avoid spicy foods and fried foods.

5. After 24 Hours Without Vomiting

  • Serve your child's normal diet.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on September 11, 2015

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