Vomiting can be scary in little children. Thankfully, most vomiting episodes are caused by tummy bugs and as long as your child stays hydrated, they will usually get better on their own.
There are a few causes of vomiting that warrant a visit to an emergency room.
Repeated episodes of very forceful vomiting in infants, particularly after they eat, need to be evaluated urgently by a provider. They don’t require an ER visit initially, but this may be where your child ends up depending on the initial evaluation.
These instances aside, you don’t need an urgent provider visit for your child for vomiting. Something to consider, though, is that pediatricians are often able to prescribe a special medicine to help slow or stop vomiting called Zofran. Even if you’re not yet worried about dehydration, this medication can come in handy to help head off this outcome.
For a vomiting child, the biggest mistake a parent can make is to stop giving them fluids.
Fluids should be given in frequent small sips (even up to 1 tsp every 5 minutes!) to prevent dehydration.
The best fluid for oral rehydration is called Pedialyte and is available over the counter. Other options include popsicles, both Pedialyte and regular popsicles, as well as jell-o, which has a high water content. Apple juice, diluted half and half with water, can help with hydration as well.
As long as your child seems well hydrated to you as defined by:
You’re generally okay to watch and wait.
If your child is not meeting these criteria, has dry lips or mouth, or their vomit contains flecks of blood, they should be seen same day by a provider.
This symptom guide is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you think your child may have a life threatening emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
Our Panic Free Symptom Checker for Kids is written and reviewed by expert physicians and medical professionals. Simply choose a symptom and answer a few questions to find a recommendation for your child’s issue.