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Nausea and Vomiting in Infants and Children

Parents often feel uncomfortable when their children are unable to eat or hold down food or fluids. Many mild illnesses may lead to a "sour stomach" or an inability to hold down food. Sometimes nausea and vomiting may be signs of a more serious condition. Follow this chart for more information about these problems.

Step 2

Answering Questions

  • Is your child an infant, and is your infant throwing up small amounts of formula after a feeding?

  • Is your infant under 10 weeks, and does your infant forcefully vomit large amounts of formula or fluid or appear to be dehydrated? Can you feel a hard mass that feels like an olive that still has a pit in the upper abdomen?

  • Is your infant crying uncontrollably, possibly while pulling their knees to their chest, and does your infant have red-colored diarrhea (looks like currant jelly) and continue to vomit all liquids?

  • Does your child (older than 1 year) have diarrhea along with nausea or vomiting?

  • Does your infant have diarrhea along with nausea and vomiting?

  • Has your infant (2 years and under) been vomiting continuously for 6-12 hours? Has your child (2 and above) been vomiting continuously for 12 to 24 hours?

Step 3

Possible Causes

  • Diagnosis

    This is probably “SPITTING UP,” a common occurrence for infants on formula. Less common is a LACTOSE INTOLERANCE or MILK ALLERGY.


    Self Care

    Your baby may be gulping air or may have taken too much formula, or the formula may be upsetting your child’s stomach. Be sure to burp your baby frequently during feedings and you can also gently massage your baby’s belly if you feel that bloating or discomfort is also present. Discuss this with your child’s doctor at the next visit. Call your child’s doctor right away if the vomiting gets worse or your baby is not keeping any food down.


  • Diagnosis

    This type of vomiting may be from a blockage at the end of the stomach called PYLORIC STENOSIS.


    Self Care

    PYLORIC STENOSIS can be serious and may require surgery.


  • Diagnosis

    Your child may have an OBSTRUCTION of the intestines called INTUSSUSCEPTION.


    Self Care

    Call your child’s doctor right away.


  • Diagnosis

    Vomiting and diarrhea may be from VIRAL GASTROENTERITIS.


    Self Care

    Children who have GASTROENTERITIS should be given an oral rehydration solution (ORS) to prevent dehydration. Ease back into eating with bland foods and clear liquids.

    See your child’s doctor if the vomiting and/or diarrhea continue or get worse. Watch carefully for fever and make sure your child is drinking fluids to avoid DEHYDRATION.


  • Diagnosis

    Vomiting and diarrhea may be from VIRAL GASTROENTERITIS.


    Self Care

    Generally, infants should not be given any liquids other than breast milk or formula. Continue to offer these to your baby even if the baby is vomiting. If your baby is unable to tolerate any breast milk or formula over the course of a full day, or appears to be dehydrated (including making less than 4 wet diapers in a day), then see your doctor. If your infant also has a fever of greater than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, then see your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    Your infant or child may be on the verge of DEHYDRATION.


    Self Care

    Call your child’s doctor right away.


  • Self Care

    For more information, please talk to your doctor. If you think the problem is serious, call your doctor right away.


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