What you need to know

  • Babies under six months old who are vomiting should be seen by a doctor urgently, as they can become unwell quickly.
  • Most of the time vomiting can be managed at home if your child isn't showing any worrying signs.
  • Preventing your child from becoming dehydrated is important, so make sure they drink plenty of fluids.

Causes

There are many causes that can lead to vomiting that include:

  • gastroenteritis, which is also known as 'gastro' or tummy bug 
  • food allergy 
  • food poisoning 
  • reflux 
  • meningitis
  • overeating 
  • stress 
  • infection 
  • illness. 

Caring for your child at home

If your child has vomited but doesn’t have any worrying signs (see the section below on when to visit a doctor) you can care for them at home. 

Babies  

Babies under six months old who are vomiting should be seen by a doctor urgently, as they can become unwell quickly.

Ensure your baby is getting plenty of fluids 

  • If you're breastfeeding, continue to feed your baby as usual when they want to feed and at other times as well. This means you are offering breast milk more than normal. 
  • If your baby is formula fed, keep giving them their formula and extra fluids (like formula or boiled, then cooled water). 
  • If your baby has started solids, offer fluids from their normal diet as well as extra fluids. 

Try to avoid:  

  • homemade sugar and salt solutions – these aren't recommended 
  • fizzy drinks, fruit juice, apple juice or sports drinks. 

Older children 

Ensure your child is getting plenty of fluids 

  • Offer fluids from their normal diet and extra fluids.   
  • Drink small amounts of fluids every half hour. Your child may like to try ice cubes to suck on. 
  • Give small amounts of food if your child is hungry. 
  • You can offer fruit juice to an older child if it’s diluted (use five-parts water to one-part juice). 

Try to avoid 

  • Homemade sugar and salt solutions –these aren't recommended 
  • Fizzy drinks, fruit juice, apple juice, Milo or sports drinks. 

Watch for signs of dehydration 

Kids who are vomiting can be come dehydrated. If your child is vomiting and has diarrhoea at the same time, they can become dehydrated quickly. 

When to visit a doctor

Take your child (of any age) to the doctor if you notice signs of dehydration like:

  • a dry mouth and tongue 
  • sunken eyes 
  • cold hands and feet 
  • unusual sleepiness or lack of energy 
  • fewer wet nappies or not passing as much wee as usual.

See your doctor urgently if your little one: 

  • is under six months old (young babies can become dehydrated and sicker quickly)
  • has signs of dehydration 
  • has severe vomiting or vomits for more than six hours 
  • vomit is green in colour, or has blood in it 
  • refuses to drink 
  • appears unusually drowsy, floppy, or is not alert
  • passes less wee 
  • has severe tummy pain or a swollen tummy 
  • has yellowish skin colour, or the whites of their eyes have become yellowish
  • has a fever.

When to call 111 

Get urgent medical help immediately if your child:

  • has a headache, stiff neck and a rash – this could be meningitis
  • sudden and severe tummy pain (this could be due to ingesting something poisonous)
  • is vomiting after a head injury 
  • is floppy, irritable or not very responsive.
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