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.
Causes of vomiting
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.
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, color, or odor. 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:
The mouth and eyes may be drier than usual.
The urine may be darker than usual.
He or she may feel cranky, tired, or dizzy.
Also, be sure to notice the color 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.
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Newborns and babies through age 6 months
Do not feed your baby for about 30 to 60
minutes after he or she has vomited. Be sure to watch your baby carefully for
dehydration. Signs include your baby being thirstier than usual and having darker urine than usual.
If your baby is breast-fed,
continue breast-feeding. Offer each breast to your baby for 1 to 2 minutes
every 10 minutes.
0.5 fl oz (15 mL) of the drink
every 10 minutes for the first hour.
After the first hour,
gradually increase the amount of ORS that you offer your baby.
6 hours have passed without vomiting, you may resume your child's regular
Do not give your child any medicine—prescription,
nonprescription, herbal, or home remedies—without your doctor specifically
telling you to do so.
Children 7 months to 12 months
When there has been no vomiting for 1 hour,
give 0.5 fl oz (15 mL) of
oral rehydration solution (ORS) every 10 minutes. Be sure to watch your child
Signs include your child being thirstier than usual and having darker urine than usual.
After the first hour, gradually increase
the amount of ORS that you offer your baby.
When 6 hours have
passed without vomiting, you may slowly resume your child's regular formula
Offer bananas, cereals, crackers, or other mild baby
foods to your baby.
You can also offer ORS frozen pops to your
Do not give your child plain water, fruit juice, or soda pop. Fruit juice and soda pop contain too much sugar and
not enough of the essential minerals (electrolytes) that are being lost. Plain
water and diet soda pop lack calories that your child needs.
not give your child any medicine—prescription, nonprescription, herbal, or home
remedies—without your doctor specifically telling you to do so.
Children over 1 year
When there has been no vomiting for 1 hour,
give 1 fl oz (30 mL) of a clear
liquid every 20 minutes for 1 hour. Be sure to watch your child carefully for
dehydration. Signs include your child being thirstier than usual and having darker urine than usual. Increase the volume of clear liquids that
you give by 3 fl oz (90 mL) an
hour for each hour that your child does not vomit. For example, give your
2 fl oz (60 mL) of fluid every 20 minutes during the second hour for a
total of 6 ounces (180 mL) in the second hour.
3 fl oz (90 mL) of fluid every 20 minutes during the
third hour for a total of 9 ounces (270 mL) in the third hour.
Do not give your child plain water, fruit juice, or soda
pop unless you do not have any other rehydration fluids available. Fruit juice and soda pop contain too much sugar and not enough of the
essential minerals (electrolytes) that are being lost. Plain water and diet soda
pop lack calories that your child needs.
Gradually start to offer
your child regular foods after 6 hours with no vomiting.
Offer your child solid foods if he or she
was eating solids before. Offer crackers, toast, broths, mild soups, mashed
potatoes, rice, and breads to your older child.
Allow your child
to eat what he or she prefers—the type of food is not
Avoid high-fiber foods, such as beans, and foods with a
lot of sugar, such as candy or ice cream.
You may give your older child an over-the-counter antinausea medicine, such as meclizine (Antivert or Bonine) or dimenhydrinate (Dramamine). Follow the package instructions carefully. If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor's advice about what amount to give.
Do not hold your baby in an extreme upright
Do not place your baby in an infant seat during
Try a new type of bottle or use a nipple with a
smaller opening to reduce air intake.
Limit active and rough play
Try putting your baby in different positions during
and after feeding.
Burp your baby frequently during
Consider talking to your doctor about starting your baby
on hypoallergenic formula. About 1% of babies who spit up are allergic to milk
Do not add cereal to formula without first consulting
your child's doctor.
Do not smoke when you are feeding your baby. Children
who are exposed to tobacco smoke are more likely to develop illnesses that
cause vomiting. If you smoke, quit. If you can't quit, do not smoke when you
are holding or feeding your baby or when you are in the house or the car. For
more information, see the topic
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.