Nausea and Vomiting in Children 1 to 3 Years: Care Instructions

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Most of the time, nausea and vomiting in children is not serious. It usually is caused by a stomach infection. A child with a stomach infection 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 child throws up, they may feel nauseated, or have an upset stomach. Younger children may not be able to tell you when they are feeling nauseated. In most cases, home treatment will ease nausea and vomiting.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Watch for signs of dehydration, which means that the body has lost too much water. Your child's mouth may feel very dry. He or she may have sunken eyes with few tears when crying. Your child may lack energy and want to be held a lot. He or she may not urinate as often as usual.
  • Offer your child small sips of water. Let your child drink as much as he or she wants.
  • Ask your doctor if your child needs an oral rehydration solution (ORS) such as Pedialyte or Infalyte. These drinks contain a mix of salt, sugar, and minerals. You can buy them at drugstores or grocery stores. Do not use them as the only source of liquids or food for more than 12 to 24 hours.
  • Gradually start to offer your child regular foods after 6 hours with no vomiting.
    • Offer your child solid foods if he or she usually eats solid foods.
    • Let your child eat what he or she prefers.
  • Do not give your child over-the-counter antidiarrhea or upset-stomach medicines without talking to your doctor first. Do not give Pepto-Bismol or other medicines that contain salicylates (a form of aspirin) or aspirin. Aspirin has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child seems very sick or is hard to wake up.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child seems to be getting sicker.
  • Your child has signs of needing more fluids. These signs include sunken eyes with few tears, a dry mouth with little or no spit, and little or no urine for 6 hours.
  • Your child has new or worse belly pain.
  • Your child vomits blood or what looks like coffee grounds.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.