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What Should You Do When Your Child Vomits?

Vomiting is common in children. When vomiting occurs with diarrhea, it may be caused by a virus. Other infections, excitement, coughing and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) may also cause vomiting.

If your child is an infant and you have concerns with your baby not tolerating feedings / vomiting after feedings, contact your doctor. If your child has abdominal pain and / or fever with vomiting, also contact your doctor.

Too much vomiting can cause dehydration, which can be very serious. Dehydration happens when your child loses too much liquid.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

Early Signs

Call your child's doctor immediately if your child shows any of these signs. Do not wait for the later signs of dehydration.

  • Child has not had a wet diaper in six hours (babies usually have six to eight wet diapers in 24 hours)
  • Child is less active than normal or is unusually sleepy
  • Child's pee is dark yellow and may have a bad smell (like ammonia)
  • Child's mouth is dry and sticky
  • Child has no tears when crying

Later Signs

  • Baby's "soft spot" is sunken
  • Child's eyes are sunken
  • Child has no energy and is difficult to wake up
  • Child has a fever

Call Your Child's Doctor If:

  • Your child shows any signs of dehydration
  • Your child has green or bloody vomit
  • Your child experiences severe stomach pain (babies may be very irritable and cry a lot)
  • Vomiting lasts more than six hours

Liquids to Give Your Child


  • Breast milk
  • Pedialyte (do not add water to dilute)
  • Formula (do not add water to dilute)

Older Children

  • Clear liquids (water, caffeine-free beverages such as Sprite or Jell-O)
  • Gatorade (Check with your child's doctor about other sports drinks. They may not be right for your child.)
  • Caffeine-free tea
  • Popsicles -- regular or Pedialyte

How to Give Liquids to Your Child


  • Breastfeed more often and for a shorter amount of time. For example, breastfeed every half hour for 10 minutes on one breast. After two or three hours, if this is tolerated well, return to your normal breastfeeding schedule.
  • If you are bottle feeding, start with Pedialyte. Give one ounce every half hour for two or three hours. If the baby takes this well, return to normal feedings with regular strength formula, giving only one to two ounces at a time. If the infant does not have vomiting after eight hours, you can try to resume his / her normal formula feeding routine.
  • If vomiting continues, offer two or three ounces of Pedialyte or each time the baby vomits. Continue feedings with regular formula or breast milk.

Older Children

  • Give liquids often and in small amounts. For example, give one or two ounces every half hour. If your child takes this well, increase the amount a little every half hour. If your child vomits, decrease the amount of liquid for the next feeding and then try to slowly increase the amount again with every feeding after that.
  • Slowly advance the diet to a regular diet. Greasy or sugary foods should be added slowly because they may increase stomach upset and vomiting.

Appropriate Foods

  • Rice
  • Plain crackers
  • Chicken
  • Noodles
  • Potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Applesauce

Foods to Avoid Until the Vomiting Ends

  • Fruit juice
  • Kool-Aid
  • Dairy products
  • Fried foods

Warning: Do not use any medication for your baby or child unless your child's doctor tells you to. Medications that are good for adults or older children can be dangerous for babies or small children.

Last Updated 11/2021

Reviewed By Barb Behr, RN

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