Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Tips From Moms and Dads: Vomiting, Nausea, and Tummy Upsets in Kids

When the kids are sick, parents can feel helpless. But there’s a lot you can do to help your little ones feel better. WebMD talked to moms and dads, who offered these quick tips for coping with the aftermath of vomiting and nausea:

Provide support. Sherri G., a Utah mom and social worker, says that her first job when caring for her sick daughter is to "make sure that she knows I'm there for her, I think that's the most important.”

Understand that kids are confused. Vomiting is scary, especially for the very young. Massachusetts writer Morgan Griffin remembers the time his then 2-year-old daughter Ada vomited and “tried to run away from the whole thing to escape…It was all very heart-breaking.” Now Griffin’s priority for a vomiting child is to keep them calm. “And we prioritize their comfort over preserving the spotlessness of our clothing or upholstery.”

Avoid triggers. “My children get an upset stomach when they have a lot of nasal drainage from allergies or a cold,” says Ginger Stinnett LaRose, a Georgia graphic artist and mom of three. “When this happens we cut out all milk products until they feel better. It’s a guarantee that during this time if they drink milk, eat yogurt, or ice cream, they will vomit.”

Soothe them with liquids and light foods. After vomiting, Sherri offers her daughter peppermint tea and soda water. “She also likes an ice pack on her tummy." For Atlanta IT professional Angelo Tomaras, the tummy soothers for his two young girls are “good ol’ TLC, that and some crackers, toast, and ginger ale.” To keep his kids hydrated Griffin offers “frequent sips of liquids like Pedialyte and sometimes frozen Pedialyte pops.”

Go slow as kids improve. Stinnett LaRose sticks to “bland, dry foods” when her children first begin to recover from being sick. “Rice, potatoes, bananas, and chicken are good. Nothing spicy or saucy. And we skip milk products.”

Red Flags: When to See a Doctor for Vomiting

 You should always talk to your pediatrician when children are hit by vomiting, nausea, or stomachaches. Symptoms that warrant going to the doctor immediately include:

  • Dehydration (especially likely in children)
  • Vomit with blood in it
  • Vomiting with fever that’s lasted more than 72 hours
  • Vomiting with focal abdominal pain -- when it hurts in one spot of the belly, as may occur with appendicitis
  • Chest pain
  • Severe abdominal pain or cramping
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Cold, clammy, pale skin
  • High fever and stiff neck
  • Fecal material or fecal odor in the vomit 

Remember that vomiting can quickly lead to dehydration. Because kids are less likely to recognize dehydration’s symptoms, keep an eye out for its signs, including dry lips and mouth, sunken eyes, rapid breathing or pulse. In babies, look for a decrease in urination, and a sunken fontanelle (baby’s soft spot).

“Finally, trust your gut feeling,” says Young. “An astute parent is better than any doctor, because you spend more time with your child than doctors or nurses.”