How to Prevent Nausea and Vomiting in Babies

September 21, 2019
If a young child is afflicted by nausea and frequent vomiting, then keeping them hydrated is a priority. You must follow the instructions of a pediatrician to do so, as they must prescribe a treatment that's age-appropriate.

Nausea and vomiting are usual in infants. In fact, it’s quite normal for them to experience gastroenteritis at some point.

This kind of discomfort still worries most parents, of course. Today, we’ll tell you how to prevent frequent vomiting in babies. In this article, we’ll also explain what it is, why it may happen to and how to deal with it.

Nausea and vomiting

First, it’s important to know the difference between vomiting and regurgitation.

Vomiting is the return of the food ingested out of the mouth. This is involuntarily and requires effort. In contrast, regurgitation occurs when a baby eats too quick and swallows air. Then, the food effortlessly comes back out through the mouth.

It’s for this reason that it’s quite difficult to distinguish between vomiting and regurgitation. Vomiting can occur at any age, but regurgitation is mainly common in infants.

In general, one could say that vomiting is beneficial. It’s a way to eliminate food that didn’t sit well or that’s harmful at that particular time. However, it could lead to serious problems such as dehydration if you don’t take the proper measures.

The Causes of Nausea and Vomiting in Children

A sleepy child seated on the potty
Gastroenteritis can lead to frequent vomiting in children.

Regarding the causes of nausea and vomiting, these will depend on the age of the child. However, there are two common reasons for vomiting in babies:

  • Gastroenteritis: This is an intestinal virus that causes diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux: This occurs when the baby’s sphincter, still in the process of maturation, doesn’t relax and complicates the transit of food. This causes reflux and therefore vomiting. It usually lasts over 12 months.

We recommend you read: Learn about Gastroenteritis

Other less common causes may be:

For all of these reasons, you must consult your pediatrician so they can help you identify the causes and begin treatment as soon as possible.

Things to Look Out for

Even though vomiting can just come and go, there are certain symptoms you must take into account. So, take your child to the doctor if you observe any of these:

  • Vomiting after a blow to the head.
  • There is blood in the vomit (it may look brown).
  • The child vomits for a long period.
  • There’s lethargy or apathy. However, some babies may show irritability and sadness.
  • Abdominal pain and swelling.
  • Bloody stools.
  • The vomit is green or yellowish.
  • The child is feverish.

Treatment

Rehydration with electrolytes is the most appropriate measure to avoid complications in cases of frequent vomiting. Keeping your child hydrated or rehydrating them is the first step you should take if your child is vomiting.

To do so, follow the instructions of your pediatrician. Depending on the infant’s age, the doctor may prescribe either an electrolytic oral solution or a liquid diet until s/he recovers. In any case, you should administer them slowly so they’re not rejected.

At this point, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t force a sick child to eat. Instead, wait until they’re hungry. Thus, after 8 hours without vomiting, you can start introducing a soft diet such as broths, soups, and bread if the child is older than one year. Breastfeed them if they’re still lactating.

You might like to read: The Consequences of Dehydration

Prevention of Frequent Vomiting in Children

To prevent vomiting, you have to be able to prevent all of its possible causes. As you can see, it would be impossible.

However, in cases of gastroesophageal reflux, it’s possible to take some actions against the presence of reflux and vomiting:

  • Burp the baby after every meal. This is the way to eliminate the gases that would cause regurgitation or vomiting.
  • Change their diet. If you’re breastfeeding, you should know that if you eliminate certain foods from your diet, then your child will regurgitate and vomit less.
  • Consult your pediatrician if your baby feeds on formula so they can prescribe a different one.
  • Feed your child in a position that facilitates the downward movement of food (vertical position) and don’t swing or move them too much afterward.
  • Try slow feeding. This is particularly important if you bottlefeed the baby. Make sure your nipples are adequately punctured as the little one may be feeding too fast, or there may be no liquid coming out of the bottle as they suck.
  • In contrast, feed the baby more often, but for less time if you’re breastfeeding. This way, they won’t have to deal with too much food, and it’ll settle in their stomach.

Conclusion

Vomiting isn’t rare in infants. However, you must be alert and try to detect if any alarm signals may indicate there are complications or major problems.

Finally, don’t forget that keeping your child well hydrated is the priority when they vomit. As usual, consult your pediatrician and always follow their instructions.

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  • Mercedes de la Torre Espí, Juan Carlos Molina Cabañero (2010), “Vómitos”, en Protocolos diagnóstico-terapéuticos de Urgencias Pediátricas SEUP-AEP, 263-270.
  • Juan José Díaz, Carlos Bousoño García, Eduardo Ramos Polo, (2010) “Manejo del niño vomitador”, en Protocolos diagnóstico-terapéuticos de Urgencias Pediátricas SEUP-AEP, 171-174.
  • Rocío Mosqueda Peña, Pablo Rojo Conejo, (2010), “Gastroenteritis aguda”, en Protocolos diagnóstico-terapéuticos de Urgencias Pediátricas SEUP-AEP, 97-102.