Most vomiting in children is due to a stomach or intestinal virus infection. The goal of treatment is to prevent dehydration, and make the child more comfortable until the virus runs its course.
Usually the vomiting lasts for the first 24 hours or less. For this first day, just concentrate on giving your child liquids to drink. Small amounts (such as ½ of an ounce) frequently (every 20 min or so), will work better than larger amounts. It is OK to wait a few hours after vomiting starts before trying to get your child to drink. Pedialyte is the best fluid to give because it contains the right amount of electrolytes, sugar, and salts that your child is losing by vomiting. Do not dilute the Pedialyte. Gatorade or Powerade is OK to give kids over the age of 6. Stay away from milk products, as they are more difficult to digest.
Continue the Pedialyte until the vomiting has stopped for a few hours. If your child is requesting solid foods, start bland (small pieces of crackers or toast), and slowly increase the amount and types of food you give. Kids will make up for the calories they miss when not eating when they are feeling well in a few days.
Most kids will start to have diarrhea after the vomiting has started. It is much more difficult to get dehydrated from diarrhea than it is from vomiting - see section on diarrhea. Keep in mind that it could take up to two (2) weeks to become completely better. Symptoms may come and go during this period and you should not be too aggressive with your child’s diet.
Reasons to call the doctor during regular hours:
- Infants less than 3 months old
- Persistent vomiting more than 12 hours
- Vomiting with earache, headache, or sore throat
Reasons to call the doctor immediately:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Extreme lethargy or weakness
- Not urinating every 8 to 12 hours (could be dehydrated)
- Child looks very sick