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Infant Vomiting?
A Mother's Guide
to Handling it at Home

Watching your infant vomiting is heart wrenching. Vomiting isn't fun, no matter what age you are. But there's something just so wrong about seeing that tiny body convulse to throw up.

This is where you step in, Mom, and take charge. And this is what you do.

First of all, understand a few basics about your vomiting baby.

Vomiting doesn't necessarily come packaged with diarrhea (a common misconception).

Despite the obvious happy reasons (who wants runny poopy diapers?), having a vomiting infant that doesn't have diarrhea is a major health win.

The more fluids flowing out of your infant's baby, the higher his chances of becoming dangerously dehydrated.

Also, learning the vomit/spit-up difference is an important step in choosing your path of treatment. Both have different causes, so both have different treatments.

Treating one when it's really the other will give you a great big pile of nothing. Decide on the problem first. Then you'll know how to best manage it.

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What Causes It?

Most infant vomiting episodes are caused by viral infections caused gastroenteritis. And yes, it is contagious. Start disinfecting the house.

Occasionally you'll find infant vomiting caused by a high fever. Obviously this type would not be contagious, since it's caused by the fever.

Other rarer causes include food poisoning, a stomach disorder, or meningitis.

When your baby vomits, try to keep her laying on her stomach or on her side as much as possible. This will prevent her from possibly inhaling the vomit into her lungs.

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What Do You Do About Infant Vomiting?

If he threw up once or twice, but otherwise seems in good spirits, simply keep a sharp eye on him.

Nurse (or bottle feed) him for a few minutes, and see how he handles the liquid.

Worst case scenario? He vomits it all up again.

Your greatest risk in infant vomiting is dehydration.

How to keep him well hydrated.

  • Wait 30 to 60 minutes after the last infant vomiting episode for the stomach to settle down.
  • When that time is up, offer him a very small amount of liquid (1 or 2 teaspoons).

What type of liquid should you give him?

Breastfed babies usually tolerate breast milk well, even when vomiting. Offer just one breast, or smaller volume to test out his stomach. If breastmilk doesn't seem to be working, try the bottlefed solution below.

Bottlefed babies should be given, instead of formula) an oral rehydration solution (ORS) like Pedialyte . I try to have some on hand for these unexpected occasions.

Use a bottle, spoon, or even a dropper to give the Pedialyte. This chart will give you an idea of how much (in 24 hours) he should receive.

Do not give your infant fruit juices, carbonated sodas (7-Up or Sprite) or sports drinks (Gatorade).

  • If the liquid stays down after 15 or 30 minutes, offer it again, slowly increasing the amount one teaspoon at a time.
  • If infant vomiting occurs again, start from the beginning
  • Otherwise, if he's old enough for solids and he's kept his fluids down for a few hours, you can offer (if he's interested) bland foods like in the BRAT diet: bananas, rice cereal, applesauce, and toast.

  • Never use over-the-counter medications unless specifically asked to by your pediatrician.

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Infant Projectile Vomiting

Even scarier than infant vomiting, infant projectil vomiting can be terrifying.

infant vomiting It's not the vomiting that's dangerous.
It's the dehydration.

The puke flies out like a rocket, spewing what seems like gallons of vomit everywhere. (Really, it's just the contents of the last bottle.)

Because of this explosive nature, it should be watched more closely.

If your infant shows signs of being lethargic, running a fever, or has diarrhea, a doctor call should be made.

Specifically, infant projectile vomiting is when the the stomach and diaphragm muscles to contract so forcefully, the vomit is projected several inches out of the mouth like a spray.

The fancy-pants doctor name for the most common cause of infant projectile vomiting is pyloric stenosis. Besides the obvious fire-hose spray sign, other signs of ploric stenosis are a lack of weight gain and a general look of malnourishment because no nutrients are being absorbed.

Another good clue that pyloric stenosis is the cause, is the regular pattern. It will happen about 15 to 30 minutes after every meal.

Pyloric stenosis occurs most often in firstborn boys (don't ask me why, not a clue) between the ages of 2 weeks and 4 months. It requires surgery to correct.

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When to Call The Pediatrician

Usually infant vomiting goes away on its own, within 6-24 hours. However, if it's been going on longer than 12 hours or has been persistantly occuring with diarrhea, you should call your doctor.

You should also call the doctor if you see vomit that is green-colored, blood-tinged, or looks like coffee grounds. The same is true if his tummy looks swollen (distended) or if he continues to refuse to eat or drink.

He's going to be concerned about dehydration, so it would be a good idea to know what the signs are so you can anticipate his questions.

I would also recommend calling your doctor if infant projectile vomiting occurs. No matter what you feel may be the cause, this kind of forceful infant vomiting should be at least reported to your pediatrician for more handling guidance.

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