Children 3 months - 10 years (If your child is less than 3 months, speak with your doctor).
Vomiting and diarrhea (watery stool) are very common symptoms in children. Vomiting and diarrhea can happen at any time of year. Although they often happen together, you can have either one or the other alone. The most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea is an infection caused by a virus (it’s also called viral gastroenteritis).
The virus spreads easily. Washing your hands often is the best way to prevent spreading the virus. Wash your hands carefully after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before handling food. Soap and water is the best way to clean your hands. You can use an alcohol based hand sanitizer if there isn’t any soap and water. The information below will help you manage your child’s vomiting and/or diarrhea.
It is important to make sure your child is getting enough fluids (staying hydrated). See the GREEN, YELLOW and RED ZONE sections. Keep giving children their normal diet even while they are vomiting or having diarrhea. This is because children who are fed normally get better faster than those who are given only liquids while they are sick. If your child has either vomiting and/or diarrhea that is not stopping, give 5–60 mL of fluids every 5–60 minutes. See “What to Feed Your Child” for age appropriate food and fluid choices. See the GREEN, YELLOW and RED ZONE section and symptoms for help managing symptoms.
Green Zone - LOW RISK: Keeping Your Child Hydrated
Call your family doctor, paediatrician, or Health Link Alberta if your child has:
Yellow Zone - INTERMEDIATE RISK: Monitoring Your Child’s Hydration
Red Zone - HIGH RISK: Your Child is Dehydrated
Infants 3–6 months
Infants 6–12 months
Examples of foods for children 6–12 months
Examples of fluids for children over 12 months
Examples of foods for children over 12 months
Foods NOT to give children
Are there any medications that can help?
How long will my child be sick?
The symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea usually go away in 5 to 7 days. Sometimes they can take up to 2 weeks or more. Vomiting usually starts first, followed within hours to a few days by diarrhea. Children often have a fever when they have vomiting and diarrhea.
Vomiting and fever usually stops before diarrhea, but not always. All symptoms can seem to improve for a day or two and then come back. If diarrhea improves but then gets worse, speak with your doctor or call Health Link Alberta.
For more information, see:Nausea and Vomiting, Age 11 and Younger
Last Revised: April 22, 2013
Author: Pediatrics, Alberta Health Services
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