First Aid: Vomiting
Vomiting can be caused by many things, most commonly gastroenteritis (the “stomach flu”). Vomiting can cause kids to lose fluids, salts, and minerals, so it’s important to make sure these are replaced.
What to Do
1. Do not feed milk products or solid foods to a child who has been vomiting.
2. Give small amounts of fluid:
- For babies: about 1 tablespoon (tbsp.) of oral electrolyte solution (ORS) every 15-20 minutes; shorter but more frequent breastfeeding
- For kids: 1-2 tbsp. every 15 minutes of ORS, ice chips, flat ginger ale or lemon-lime soda, clear broth, ice pops, or diluted juice
If your child vomits again, wait 20-30 minutes and start over.
3. Gradually increase the amount of fluids once there’s no vomiting for 3 to 4 hours.
4. After 8 hours without vomiting:
- For babies: breastfeed as usual and, if used, gradually reintroduce formula (1-2 ounces)
- For kids: serve bland foods (rice, applesauce, toast, cereal, crackers)
5. Resume regular diet after 24 hours without vomiting. Call the doctor if it starts again.
Seek Medical Care
Vomiting is accompanied by:
- signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, sunken eyes, decrease in urination (peeing)
- inability to keep clear fluids down
- vomit that’s greenish-yellow, looks like coffee grounds, or contains blood
- a hard, bloated, or painful abdomen (belly)
- extreme irritability
- swelling, redness, or pain in a boy’s scrotum
- projectile or forceful vomiting in a newborn
- Wash hands well and often, especially before cooking or eating and after touching raw meat or going to the bathroom.
- Avoid close contact with anyone with a stomach bug.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014