Vomiting in babies
1) Why does my baby vomit ?
There are many reasons why a baby can vomit. Although they can make you feel uncomfortable and scare your baby – and even make him cry – vomiting is usually not serious. If your baby is vomiting, you will want to know what is causing it to check if he is well and make him more comfortable. Possible causes of vomiting are:
- Feeding problems
During the first months of your baby’s life, vomiting may be related to feeding problems, such as overeating. A less common cause is a protein allergy in your breast milk or formula.
- Viral or bacterial infection
Congestion or a respiratory infection can lead to vomiting, especially during a cough. And the mucus of a cold can flow into the back of your child’s throat and trigger the gag reflex or irritate the stomach. Some children vomit to remove mucus from their system.
A urinary tract infection, pneumonia, meningitis and even an ear infection can also cause nausea and vomiting.
- Excessive crying
Long tears can trigger the gag reflex and make your baby kiss. Although it is disturbing for both of you, vomiting during crying will not physically harm your baby. If it appears safe, there is no reason to worry.
- Bad travel
Some babies tend to have motion sickness, which can be a problem if your daily routine includes a car trip. Experts believe that motion sickness occurs when there is a disconnect between what your baby sees and feels with sensitive parts of his body, such as his inner ears and some nerves.
- Poisoned substance
Your baby may vomit if he swallows something toxic, such as a medicine, plant or chemical product. Or he may be suffering from food poisoning caused by contaminated food or water.
- Intestinal obstructions
Sudden, persistent vomiting may be a symptom of a handful of rare conditions involving intestinal obstruction, such as intussusception (when part of the bowel slips into the next part), maltreatment (bowel twisting), or Hirschsprung’s disease (a blockage due to poor muscle movement in the intestine).
Because blockages can lead to malnutrition, dehydration and other health problems, they usually require immediate medical attention and possibly surgery.
2) How do I know if my baby is spitting or vomiting ?
It can be difficult to tell the difference because vomiting and sputum are similar and both usually occur after feeding, but there are some clues. When your baby spits, it starts without effort, with little or no force and without disturbing or upsetting his belly. This is normal in babies and is usually not worrying. But when your baby vomits, the contents of the stomach are triggered with force, causing distress and discomfort. The amount of vomiting is usually much greater than when your baby spits.
3) How to help my baby when he vomits ?
In most cases, your baby’s vomit will stop without treatment, but here are some things you can do to help him feel better.
- Keep your baby standing or lying on his stomach or side if he is awake. It can be difficult to see your baby in trouble, but try to be calm so you can comfort him. Your soothing presence and gentle touch will be reassuring.
- Some doctors recommend not giving the baby solid food for 24 hours after vomiting. If this seems too long, ask your baby’s doctor for advice on when to restart with solid foods after vomiting.
- Give your baby enough water to prevent dehydration. Call your baby’s doctor for advice on how to rehydrate your baby if he vomits a lot.
4) Can my baby choke while vomiting while sleeping ?
Many parents worry that putting a baby who vomits on his back can suffocate him if he sleeps. But this is extremely unlikely if:
- Your baby normally sleeps on his back, as recommended by doctors.
- Your baby has no physical problem that prevents him from cleaning his airways.
5) What can I do to prevent my baby from vomiting or spitting ?
You can not always keep your baby safe from the diseases that cause vomiting, but here are some helpful strategies for some of the usual scenarios:
- If your baby spits after a meal, give him smaller amounts and do it more often. Do not let him jump on your lap, put him on an inflatable chair or leave him too active right after the meal – the food needs time to settle in his belly. Keeping him standing for about half an hour after you finish eating helps too.
- To minimize motion sickness, plan a lot of stops during your travels to give your baby a chance to get fresh air and calm down his stomach. If she is eating solids, give her a snack before the trip to put something in her stomach. And give her lots of fluids to keep her hydrated.
6) After vomiting, when can my baby eat solids again ?
Your baby’s doctor may recommend that you avoid giving solid foods to your baby for a period of time after an illness that causes vomiting. After that, if your baby’s vomiting goes down or stops and his appetite returns, you can slowly reintroduce other fluids and healthy foods (if he has a strong diet).
7) When should I call my baby’s doctor ?
Call your baby’s doctor when:
- Your baby has been vomiting for more than 24 hours. This may be normal, but check with the doctor to be sure.
- Your baby is less than 3 months old and has a rectal temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher. Her doctor should examine her right away.
- She shows signs of dehydration. These may include dark yellow urine, decreased urination (more than six to eight hours without urinating), dry lips and mouth, lethargy, and tearless crying if it is more than a month old . (A newborn baby can do a month or even more to shed his first tears.)
- She is exceptionally demanding.
- She has blood in her vomit.
- She has violent and persistent vomiting in a half-hour meal. This can be a sign of pyloric stenosis. Contact the doctor as soon as possible.
- His skin or the whites of his eyes are yellow, which is a sign of jaundice.