Nausea and vomiting aren’t conditions — they’re symptoms suggesting that something is afoot in your child’s gastrointestinal tract. A vomiting child likely won’t be able to summon up a healthy appetite soon after he throws up, but getting him back on solids is essential for good health. The American Academy of Pediatrics, or AAP, advises you to withhold solid foods while your child is still vomiting — however, make sure he continues to receive fluids to prevent dehydration.
Cause of Vomiting
Vomiting in children — which is frequently accompanied by diarrhea — can be caused by many things, according to a February 2001 article in the “American Family Physician.” Viruses, parasites, bacteria and too many sweets can cause vomiting in your child; however, the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center indicates that vomiting in children is usually caused by a viral infection, or “stomach flu.” Vomiting and diarrhea that persist longer than a day can lead to dehydration, which can become life threatening.
The AAP states that if you have a vomiting child, food should be off limits for the first 24 hours. However, if she’s over the age of two, give her small amounts of liquids, such as sugar or gelatin water, chicken broth, ginger ale, sports drinks or other clear fluids. According to the “American Family Physician,” water itself isn’t sufficient, as it can lower the amount of salt or sugar in your child’s blood. Children under the age of two benefit from an over-the-counter oral rehydration solution, such as Pedialyte. These products have just the right amount of salt, sugar, potassium and other nutrients your child needs to replenish body fluids.
Most kids are back to their regular diets a few days after a tummy bug. KidsHealth, a service of the Nemours Foundation, advises giving your child food eight hours after the last vomiting episode. Keep food offerings bland. Crackers, toast or bread, broths and mild soups, mashed potatoes, rice and applesauce are nonthreatening choices. If your child can keep down bland foods, expand his dietary choices slowly over the next two days. Serve small portions. Encourage your child to take small bites and chew slowly.
What to Avoid
Avoid giving your child fried fare or sugary, fatty, rich foods, such as ice cream and pudding. If diarrhea was present during your child’s illness, milk and other dairy foods should not be reintroduced into your child’s diet for another three to seven days.
While your child is ill, the most important thing to monitor is dehydration. Your child may not be able to communicate what he’s feeling, so it’s up to you to look for the signs. Signs of dehydration include dry lips, sunken eyes, a quick pulse, rapid breathing and decreased or absent urination. If your child can’t keep down liquids or if vomiting gets worse, contact his pediatrician.