First Aid: Vomiting
Vomiting can be caused by many things, most commonly gastroenteritis (the "stomach flu"). Vomiting can cause kids to lose fluids, salts, and minerals, so it's important to make sure these are replaced.
What to Do
1. Don't feed milk products or solid foods to a child who has been vomiting.
2. Give small amounts of liquid:
- For babies: about 1 tablespoon (tbsp.) of oral electrolyte solution (ORS) every 15–20 minutes; shorter but more frequent breastfeeding
- For kids: 1–2 tbsp. every 15 minutes of ORS, ice chips, flat ginger ale or lemon-lime soda, clear broth, ice pops, or diluted juice
If your child vomits again, wait 20–30 minutes and start over.
3. Slowly increase the amount of liquids once there's no vomiting for 3–4 hours.
4. After 8 hours without vomiting:
- For babies: breastfeed as usual and, if used, gradually begin formula (1–2 ounces)
- For kids: serve bland foods (rice, applesauce, toast, cereal, crackers)
5. Go back to a regular diet after 24 hours without vomiting. Call the doctor if it starts again.
Get Medical Care if Your Child Is Vomiting and Has:
- signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, sunken eyes, decreased peeing
- trouble keeping clear liquids down
- vomit that's greenish-yellow, looks like coffee grounds, or contains blood
- a hard, bloated, or painful belly
- extreme irritability
- in a boy: swelling, redness, or pain in the scrotum
- in a newborn: forceful vomiting
- Wash hands well and often, especially before cooking or eating and after touching raw meat or going to the bathroom.
- Avoid close contact with anyone with a stomach bug.
- Food Poisoning
- Pyloric Stenosis
- Severe Morning Sickness (Hyperemesis Gravidarum)
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995- KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.