Nausea describes the feeling of needing to vomit. It is when your stomach feels queasy and sick and this is often accompanied by increased saliva production and an increased heart rate. Unfortunately nausea and vomiting can be common in babies and children. When babies are very young it can be normal for them to vomit a little bit after food – this is known as possetting. It can be normal or it can be a sign of reflux or GORD (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease). To learn more about these conditions have a look at my reflux blog:
However if the vomiting is not just small amounts after a feed then it may be down to an illness. Babies often catch minor tummy bugs which can last one to two days and this is generally nothing to be concerned about. If vomiting is very persistent and your little one is unable to keep anything down at all or if the vomiting lasts for longer than 24 hours then it is important to get them checked over by your doctor due to the risk of dehydration or serious illness.
Possible causes of vomiting in children:
- Possetting or regurgitating small amount after a feed can be normal for young babies or with other symptoms can indicate reflux or GORD.
- Gastroenteritis – This is one of the most common causes of vomiting in children and is often accompanied by diarrhoea. It is an infection of the gut which can be viral, bacterial or protozoal. The vomiting associated with this illness generally lasts for 1-2 days but for most children it will stop within three days.
- Other Infections – such as ear infections, urinary tract infections or meningitis can also cause vomiting. If vomiting is severe and persistent and is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, drowsiness or rash then contact your doctor straight away.
- Appendicitis – If your child’s vomiting is accompanied by severe tummy pain then it is important to get them checked our – especially if it is getting gradually worse.
- A food or medication allergy – Many food allergies or intolerances can cause vomiting in children such as shellfish, nuts, dairy, and the antibiotic penicillin. This type of vomiting is often accompanied by other symptoms such as rash. If it is accompanied by wheezing, swelling of the lips or tongue, or any shortness of breath contact your doctor straight away.
- Eating or drinking something poisonous can cause vomiting – if you have any suspicion your child has had something posionous then contact the National Poinsons Information Centre on (01) 809 2166 between 8am and 10pm – if it is outside of these hours contact your out of hours doctor service. See http://www.poisons.ie for further information. This is a great resource!!
- There are other physical causes of vomiting which are generally accompanied by distress and pain and the vomiting is often projectile. These include congenital pyloric stenosis, a strangulated hernia, and intussaseption. If your child has vomiting associated with severe pain then always contact your doctor.
- If your child displays any signs of dehydration such as
Passing urine less frequently – so less wet nappies
Feeling lightheaded or dizzy – so toddlers may not walk steadily.
Babies may become lethargic or irritable
Skin may become loose, pale or mottled
Eyes and fontanelle (soft spot on top of their head) may become sunken and they may have cold hands/feet.
Baby may not be producing tears when they cry.
- If they have a rash, stiff neck, headache or light sensitivity.
- If the vomiting has lasted longer than 24-48 hours.
- If the vomit contains blood or is green in colour.
- If your child cannot stop vomiting and is unable to hold down even small amounts of fluids.
- If your child is in a lot of distress or has bad stomach pain.
How you can help at home:
- If your child has been vomiting but is not showing any of the signs of dehydration listed above then you should continue with breastfeeding or other milk feeds. Encourage your baby or child to sip little and often – really try to promote the intake of fluids to prevent dehydration from occurring. You can offer a rehydration salt such as Dioralyte in addition to your child’s normal fluid intake if they are over one year of age. If they are under one year then speak to your doctor first. You can view the patient information leaflet for Dioralyte here for full instructions: http://www.medicines.ie/medicine/13774/PIL/Dioralyte/
- I also have previously written some tips on how to get your toddler to drink dioralyte here: https://wonderbaba.ie/2015/06/22/how-to-get-your-toddler-to-drink-dioralyte/
- Parents and care givers should pay particular attention to hand hygiene to reduce the spread of infections such as gastroenteritis. To do this always use soap and wash and dry hands thoroughly after changing nappies, serving food or fluids, after and before cleaning or caring for your sick baby etc.
- During vomiting spells it’s best not to share towels to prevent the spread of infection.
- Keep babies and children out of creche, preschool or school whilst they are infected and for 48 hours after their last vomiting episode.
- Avoid giving fruit juice or carbonated drinks.
- If your child has shown signs of dehydration and you have consulted with the doctor you should give rehydration therapy and avoid solid foods.
- Once your child is rehydrated you can reintroduce their normal food.
If anyone has any questions about vomiting, or dehydration please don’t hesitate to get in touch by sending me a private message on the WonderBaba facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/wonderbabacare or by phoning me at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 on 012600262!
Also have a read of :
- Nice Guideline 84
- BNF for children