It is normal for infants and children to vomit occasionally. In most circumstances, it will not last longer than 1-2 days and not an indication of anything serious. The typical cause of vomiting in infants and children is gastroenteritis. The infection of the gut is usually triggered a bacteria or virus which also causes diarrhea. The symptoms can be unpleasant but the child starts to feel better after a few days.
Nevertheless, persistent vomiting can oftentimes cause the child to become severely dehydrated and occasionally an indication of something serious such as meningitis. It is vital to be prepared on what to do if a child starts vomiting.
What to do for vomiting?
In case a child vomits, it is important to closely monitor the child. If you are worried, it is best to set an appointment with a doctor. Once the cause is a simple stomach bug, the child might still feel well enough to play, eat and be their normal self. In such cases, continue feeding as usual and offer regular fluids.
If the child appears irritable, floppy or less responsive, he/she might be seriously sick, thus a doctor should be consulted right away.
When to consult a doctor
- Child repeatedly vomits and unable to hold fluids down
- Severe stomach pain
- The child is suspected to be dehydrated with symptoms such as dry mouth, reduced urinary frequency, crying without tears, drowsiness and a few soiled diapers
- Child appears irritable, floppy, lacks energy or not his/her usual self
- Headache, stiff neck and rashes
- Vomitus is greenish or contains streaks of blood
- Vomiting lasts for more than a day or two
How to look after a child at home
In most cases, the child can be safely treated at home. The vital point to remember is to ensure that the child drinks plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Once the child is vomiting, continue breastfeeding or bottle feeding.
If the child appears dehydrated, extra fluids are needed. A doctor should be consulted if the child can be given an oral rehydration solution. An oral rehydration solution is a special powder that can be prepared into a drink. This contains salts and sugar to replace the lost water and salts due to diarrhea and vomiting.
Children who are vomiting must take small sips of clear fluid such as clear broth or water. It is vital to avoid fizzy beverages and fruit juice until he/she feels better. If not dehydrated and the appetite is still intact, the child can eat solid foods as usual.
Causes of vomiting
- Food allergies
- Ingestion of poison
- Other forms of infections such as urinary tract infection (UTI), pneumonia, middle ear infection or meningitis