Infants and children occasionally experience bouts of vomiting for many reasons. It may be related to a decrease of the normal motility of the stomach, therefore food does not move from the stomach to the intestine. Vomiting also happens when the brain over stimulates the stomach and the esophagus by making its surrounding muscles contract, causing stomach contents to be expelled. Oftentimes, vomiting in children, especially when associated with fever is more likely caused by an infection in the gastrointestinal tract.

In most children, vomiting is a symptom that will pass within a day or two and can be treated at home. Here are some helpful tips on how to appropriately manage a child who is vomiting at home.

1. Stop giving foods or liquids for approximately 2 hours. Presence of food in the stomach will further stimulate vomiting.

2. After the two-hour period, start giving clear liquids in small sips or you may let your child suck on ice chips to prevent dehydration. It is also best to give him oral hydration solutions like pedialyte to correct electrolyte loss in the body. Avoid lemonade, orange, and other acidic drinks because they can exacerbate the problem.

3. If there is no further vomiting after introduction of clear fluids, you may start giving your child small amount of bland foods like dry crackers, cereals, or toast. Avoid caffeinated and dairy-containing foods.

4. Remember to keep the child in a sitting position rather than lying for about 30 minutes after introduction of any water or solid foods. This is done to decrease chances of expulsion of the food through the mouth, and to avoid aspiration of vomitus (gastric contents) into the lungs.

5. If the child vomits while in lying position, turn his head to the side to allow vomitus to flow through his mouth.

6. You may gradually resume the child’s diet 24 to 48 hours after the vomiting has ceased.

Although most cases of vomiting maybe managed at home, a physician should be consulted if: a) your child’s vomiting persists for more than 8 hours; b) if vomiting is accompanied with fever, sever abdominal pain, diarrhea, or severe headache; c) if the child shows signs of dehydration such as weakness, irritability, dry lips, mouth and tongue, little or no urination, sunken eyeballs, etc.; and d) if vomit contains blood or resembles coffee ground.

Vomiting is only a symptom that encompasses a lot of possible illnesses that a child can have. While it is necessary to investigate what causes the vomiting, every parent should understand that dehydration is the closest potential danger when the child is vomiting, and this can only be prevented by proper institution of rehydration therapy at home.