In young babies and children, vomiting can be a normal and even a predictable symptom of many illnesses. Usually being sick does not need to be a major cause for concern as long as your child appears well otherwise.
In young children, there are different kinds of vomiting, such as;
- Posseting. This is when a baby brings up a small amount of vomit after drinking milk.
- Reflux. This is a common condition in young babies and is caused by the valve at the top of the stomach opening by accident. Therefore recently consumed food slowly comes back up the oesophagus. This condition is not harmful to babies, and most infants end up growing out of the condition by the time they are walking.
- Projectile Vomiting. This is when stomach contents appear to come up forcibly. Babies do projectile vomit occasionally, however, if it’s happening regularly after several feeds it is advised that you see a doctor immediately to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
Cause of Infant Vomiting
There can be numerous causes of vomiting, such as;
- Minor infections, even including the common cold
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux
- Motion sickness, such as from travelling in a car
It is possible that vomiting can be an indicator of a more serious underlying illness. Sometimes children end up vomiting due to serious infections such as meningitis, obstructions within the bowel, or conditions such as appendicitis. If you find that your child’s vomiting is progressing to a fever and loose bowel movements, the most likely cause will be a viral infection.
If vomiting persists for more than twelve hours, then you should see your doctor as soon as possible as there is an increased risk of dehydration.
Self-Care Options For Vomiting In Young Children
Most of the time, you will notice after your child has vomited, they will recover quickly and may even feel relieved. After being sick, children will often feel hungry or thirsty. Make sure you offer them something to drink on a regular basis so that they do not become dehydrated. You will also be able to find specially prepared rehydration drinks for children from your local pharmacy. For children who refuse to drink rehydration drinks, you can try diluting regular fruit juice with water.
Babies who are breastfed or bottle-fed should still be given their normal feeds at their regular times. Ensure that babies who are taking bottle feeds are drinking from bottles that have been carefully sterilised.
Children who are on solid foods should be allowed to be guided by their appetites as there is no evidence that fasting can benefit someone who has been vomiting. Foods that are high in carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes, rice and pasta are recommended to maintain energy levels, and soups are advised to help restore fluid levels.
To avoid the spread of infection, pay extra care and attention to personal hygiene and cleanliness. You can do this by immediately removing and washing any clothing or bedding which has been contaminated by vomit. Make sure that you disinfect any surfaces which have been vomited on with detergent and that you wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning up any vomit.
As a result of vomiting and any loose bowel movements, your child will most likely be feeling tired and irritable. Allow your child to rest, and avoid sending them to daycare or school for at least twenty-four hours following the last episode of vomiting.
If your child continues to vomit or appears to be unwell and uncomfortable, then see your doctor.
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Medical information published on this website is of a general nature only and not intended to be a substitute for informed healthcare professional advice or clinical care. If you have specific healthcare concerns or issues you should consult with a qualified health care professional such as your own GP.