Vomiting occurs when a child's stomach
contents are forced up the
esophagus and out of the mouth. Although nausea may
accompany vomiting in adults and older children, children younger than age 3
are usually not able to tell you if they are having nausea. Most of the time
vomiting is not serious. Home treatment will often ease your child's
Vomiting in a baby should not be confused with spitting
up. Vomiting is forceful and repeated. Spitting up may seem forceful but it
usually occurs shortly after feeding, is effortless, and causes no discomfort.
A baby may spit up for no reason
Overfeeding, not burping your baby after feeding,
intolerance to milk or formula, and exposure to tobacco smoke are other reasons
why your baby may spit up.
Most vomiting in children is caused by a viral stomach illness (gastroenteritis). A child with a stomach illness also
may have other symptoms, such as diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. With home
treatment, the vomiting usually will stop within 12 hours. Diarrhea may last
for a few days or more.
Rotavirus is a virus that can cause
severe vomiting and diarrhea.
Rotavirus vaccine helps protect against
Vomiting can also be
caused by an infection in another part of the body, such as
pneumonia, or a urinary tract infection. In rare cases, vomiting can
be a symptom of a serious condition, such as a blockage of the digestive tract
(pyloric stenosis), an infection (meningitis) of the fluid (cerebrospinal fluid) and
tissues (meninges) that surround the brain and spinal cord, or
When a toddler vomits,
it is important to make sure he or she has not swallowed medicines, household
liquids, or other poisons. Look around the house for empty containers and
spills. There may be pills in your child's vomit, or the vomit may have an
unusual appearance, colour, or odour. For more information, see the topic
A child who falls down and
forcefully hits his or her head or belly may vomit because of an injury to
those areas. Check your child's body for bruises and other injuries.
Babies and children younger than 1 year old
need special attention if they continue to vomit. They can quickly become
dehydrated. It is important to replace lost fluids
when your child is vomiting. Watch your child carefully, and pay close
attention to the amount of fluid he or she is able to drink. Look for early
symptoms of dehydration:
Also, be sure to notice the colour of the vomit, and count
the number of times your child vomits. If your child vomits so frequently that
you can't get him or her to drink or vomits every time he or she takes a
drink, the risk of dehydration is greater.
Check your child's symptoms to decide if and when
your child should see a doctor.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
Repeated vomiting: The child vomits
nearly every time he or she tries to drink something. This type of vomiting
makes it impossible to keep down any fluids or solid food, which greatly
increases the chance of becoming dehydrated. The child has an even greater
chance of dehydration if he or she also has diarrhea.
Occasional vomiting: Some young children vomit every once in a
while for no clear reason. This usually does not increase the risk of
dehydration or other problems as long as the child can keep down fluids between
vomiting. The more time that passes between episodes of vomiting, the less
serious it probably is. But if the vomiting continues, it may be important to
find the cause.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
Many non-prescription and prescription medicines can cause
nausea or vomiting. A few examples are:
Starting a new medicine or increasing the dose can cause nausea
and vomiting. Nausea and vomiting also may mean that there is too much medicine
in your body, even if you took it properly.
Temperature varies a little depending on how you measure it.
For children up to 11 years old, here are the ranges for high, moderate, and
mild according to how you took the temperature.
Oral (by mouth), ear, or rectal temperature
A forehead (temporal) scanner is usually 0.3 C (0.5 F) to 0.6 C (1 F) lower than an oral temperature.
Armpit (axillary) temperature
Note: For children under 5 years old, rectal temperatures are
the most accurate.
Symptoms of serious illness in a baby
may include the following:
It is easy for your diabetes to become out of control when
you are sick. Because of an illness:
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
A baby that is extremely sick:
A baby that is sick (but not extremely
Babies can quickly get dehydrated when they lose fluids because of problems like
vomiting or fever.
Symptoms of dehydration can range from mild to
severe. For example:
Severe dehydration means:
Moderate dehydration means:
Mild dehydration means:
Symptoms of serious illness may
An illness plan for people with diabetes usually covers things like:
The plan is designed to help keep your diabetes in control even
though you are sick. When you have diabetes, even a minor illness can cause
You can get dehydrated when
you lose a lot of fluids because of problems like vomiting or fever.
Symptoms of dehydration can range from mild to severe. For
Colic is an extreme type of crying in
a baby between 3 weeks and 3 months of age. All babies cry, but a colicky baby
will cry for hours at a time, no matter what you do.
crying episode, a colicky baby may cry loudly and continuously and be hard to
comfort. The baby may get red in the face, clench the fists, and arch his or
her back or pull the legs up to the belly.
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Severe dehydration means:
Moderate dehydration means:
Mild dehydration means:
Based on your answers, you need
or other emergency services now.
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in children are:
If you're not sure if a child's fever is high, moderate, or
mild, think about these issues:
With a high fever:
With a moderate fever:
With a mild fever:
you see signs of dehydration in your baby. These signs include your baby being thirstier than usual and having less urine than usual.
If your child also has diarrhea, try home treatment for diarrhea.
Call your child's doctor if any of the following occur during home
It is normal for babies to spit up after a feeding. Vomiting after a single feeding may happen sometimes and does not mean your baby has a problem. Repeated vomiting after feedings is more of a concern. The following tips may help your baby spit up less often. If this advice does not help, talk with your doctor.
If you use child care, talk to the caregivers about their
program or policies for sick children.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your child's condition by being prepared to answer
the following questions:
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Current as ofNovember 30, 2016
Current as of:
November 30, 2016
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
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