Treatment for a Stomach Virus in Children

By Kathryn Walsh
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Stomach viruses are common, but the vomiting and diarrhea they cause can quickly dehydrate your child. The first order of business is to call her doctor for a conclusive diagnosis, as he needs to rule out other causes for your child's symptoms. Once you have confirmation of a stomach virus from your child's pediatrician, home remedies may be your best bet to help your child’s tummy woes.

Keep Her Hydrated

Preventing dehydration is the most important thing you can do for a child with a stomach virus, says pediatrician Dr. Ben Hoffman of Oregon Health and Science University's Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. Offer your child lots of fluid. If she's vomiting, Dr. Hoffman recommends that you give her one to two tablespoons of liquid every five to 15 minutes. Once she can keep the fluid down, slowly increase the amount you give her. For an infant, give her regular breast milk or formula. Give an older child an oral rehydration solution, which is available at grocery stores and pharmacies, or give her a caffeine-free, low-sugar beverage such as water or diluted juice.

Keep Her Comfortable

Keep your child home until her fever has come down and she is no longer vomiting, advises HealthyChildren. Stomach viruses are highly contagious and fighting one will zap her energy, so a sick child should stay home and rest until her symptoms have dissipated. You can comfort her with a warm bath or a cool compress on her forehead. Provide a toddler or older child with books or DVDs so she'll happily stay put in one spot.

Feeding a Sick Child

Don't try to feed your child snacks or meals during vomiting jags. If your baby is still breastfeeding, HealthyChildren recommends that you wait to resume normal feedings until she hasn't vomited for at least four hours. If she's formula fed, don't offer her regular bottle until she has not vomited for at least eight hours. For a child who eats solid food, wait eight hours after vomiting to offer her solid food, advises HealthyChildren. Start by giving her bland, starchy food. Offer an infant some baby cereal, but give an older child rice, toast, dry crackers or packaged cereal. She can begin eating her usual diet in 24 to 48 hours, according to HealthyChildren. Wait two to three days before reintroducing any milk products, advises KidsHealth.

Further Steps

Don't give your child any medications without first speaking to her doctor. The pediatrician will likely advise you to not administer any medications, according to KidsHealth, as over-the-counter drugs used to treat nausea, vomiting and diarrhea aren't recommended for children. Call your doctor right away if your child seems to be getting sicker or shows other troubling symptoms. These symptoms include a failure to produce urine after eight hours; the presence of blood or bile in her stool or vomit; having abdominal pain that doesn't go away after vomiting; a fever of over 104 degrees Fahrenheit or a fever of 100.4 F in a baby younger than 12 weeks, according to HealthyChildren.