Many different illnesses can cause vomiting in babies and small children. Fortunately, nearly all episodes of vomiting are caused by self-limited infectious diseases, such as upper respiratory infections, viral infections of the digestive tract and other common childhood illnesses. A few causes of vomiting can be serious and may require prompt medical attention. All episodes of vomiting in newborns should be considered serious, regardless of cause, as newborns can become dangerously dehydrated very quickly. For all other cases of vomiting, home treatment and a little rest are generally all that is needed.
Give your baby nothing to eat or drink for 30 minutes to one hour following an episode of vomiting in order to rest the stomach and prevent further irritation.
Monitor your baby for signs of dehydration, such as less frequent urination, a strong odor or darker color to your baby’s urine, increased fussiness, lethargy, sunken fontanels, reduced tears when crying and a dry or sticky mouth. If your infant shows any signs of dehydration, he needs to be taken to the emergency room immediately.
Continue breast-feeding your baby, and offer each breast to your infant every 10 minutes. Formula fed babies should be given 0.5 ounces of room temperature oral rehydration solution every 10 minutes after the vomiting has subsided. Gradually increase the amount of the rehydration solution over the next several hours, and continue to check your baby for signs of dehydration. When six hours have passed without vomiting, formula feeding may be resumed.
For older babies who are accustomed to solid foods, introduce clear liquids once your child is feeling better and has not vomited in at least eight hours. Chicken broth, gelatin and popsicles are typically well tolerated.
Resume a normal diet when 12 hours have passed since the last vomiting episode. Begin with foods such as bread, cereal, pasta, bananas and applesauce. If new symptoms develop, or if the vomiting returns, contact your baby’s pediatrician as soon as possible.
If you are concerned about your baby's health, contact his physician. Most doctor's offices have nurses available to answer questions over the phone.
Avoid giving any unnecessary oral medications, as they may further irritate the stomach and make vomiting worse. Use acetaminophen suppositories for fever, if needed. Projectile vomiting and vomiting that is more than the amount usually present with spit-up should be reported to your child's health care provider.