Nausea and Vomiting in Children: Care Instructions

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A child's digestive system

Your Care Instructions

Most of the time, nausea and vomiting in children is not serious. It often is caused by a viral stomach flu. A child with the stomach flu also may have other symptoms. These may include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. With home treatment, the vomiting will likely stop within 12 hours. Diarrhea may last for a few days or more.

In most cases, home treatment will ease nausea and vomiting.

With babies, vomiting should not be confused with spitting up. Vomiting is forceful. The child often keeps vomiting. And he or she may feel some pain. Spitting up may seem forceful. But it often occurs shortly after feeding. And it doesn't continue. Spitting up is effortless.

The doctor has checked your child carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

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?

Newborn to 6 months

  • Be sure to watch your baby closely for dehydration. These signs include sunken eyes with few tears, a dry mouth with little or no spit, and no wet diapers for 6 hours.
  • Do not give your baby plain water.
  • If your baby is breastfed, keep breastfeeding. Offer each breast to your baby for 1 to 2 minutes every 10 minutes.
  • If your baby still isn't getting enough fluids from the breast or from formula, ask your doctor if you need to use an oral rehydration solution (ORS). Examples are Pedialyte and Infalyte. These drinks contain a mix of salt, sugar, and minerals. You can buy them at drugstores or grocery stores.
  • The amount of ORS your baby needs depends on your baby's age and size. You can give the ORS in a dropper, spoon, or bottle.
  • 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.

7 months to 3 years

  • 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.
  • Slowly 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.
    • Allow your child to eat small amounts of what he or she prefers.
    • Avoid high-fiber foods, such as beans. And avoid foods with a lot of sugar, such as candy or ice cream.
  • 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.

Over 3 years

  • Watch for and treat 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.
  • Have your child rest in bed until he or she feels better.
  • When your child is feeling better, offer the type of food he or she usually eats. Avoid high-fiber foods, such as beans. And avoid foods with a lot of sugar, such as candy or ice cream.
  • 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 passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child seems very sick or is hard to wake up.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse belly pain.
  • Your child has a fever with a stiff neck or a severe headache.
  • 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 vomits blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
  • Your child's vomiting gets worse.

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

  • The vomiting is not better in 1 day (24 hours).
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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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.