By Today's ParentUpdated Mar 17, 2023
Barf. Puke. Vomit. Call it what you will, but rest assured that as a parent, you’ll encounter kid vomit—and it won’t be fun. Even the most seasoned, BTDT parents can find themselves fully frazzled when their kid starts throwing up.
But the fact is, kid vomit happens. And when it does, you may have some questions. Here are the answers:
Here are some of the most common reasons kids throw up:
Yep, dehydration is the top concern when a kid is vomiting. They'll likely feel pretty thirsty afterwards (along with wanting that yucky taste out of her mouth). But that doesn’t mean you should give them a big glass of water, because it’s likely to come right back up.Thanasis Zovoilis/ Getty Images
Try small but frequent sips of water or very watered-down juice.
You could also offer an oral rehydration solution, like Pedialyte, which contains just the right balance of sugar and salts to maximize fluid absorption. If you go this route, alternate it with water for the first six to 12 hours. You may need to spoon the fluid in every few minutes. Or try a Pedialyte freezer pop.
What about ginger ale? Although many swear it relieves nausea and some studies back that up, too much of the sugary pop can also exacerbate stomach problems. Warm ginger tea, sweetened with a bit of honey, is a better choice.
If your baby is breastfeeding, keep breastfeeding! Do so frequently, following your baby’s lead. This will help ensure that lost fluid is replaced.
Most importantly, keep a close eye on your kid for signs of dehydration. These include:
See your doctor if some or all of these signs are present.mrs/ Getty Images
As gross as this sounds to adults, it’s pretty common for a kid to vomit the contents of their stomach and ask for a snack five minutes later. Should you let them?
Advice on this one goes both ways. Some doctors recommend waiting as many as eight hours (!!!) before offering food if your child is vomiting from gastroenteritis. Other doctors say you can go ahead and offer small amounts of food if your kid says they're hungry right after vomiting.miodrag ignjatovic/ Getty Images
Here, again, experts have different views. Many recommend sticking to the “BRAT” diet: bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. But newer research shows that sick kids can actually eat the same foods they always do, without repercussions. It probably makes sense to avoid fried, greasy foods, as well as dairy and excessive sugar. Ask your doctor for advice.romrodinka/ Getty Images
Try not to freak out; she’s taking her cues from you. Soothe your child, rub their back, acknowledge their feelings and tell them that it’s okay and that it will be over soon. If your kid has long hair, tie it back. Puke hair is terrible for everyone involved.Suzi Media Production/ Getty Images
These days, any incidence of vomiting could potentially be COVID-19. Follow your school's guidance on COVID-19 protocols as they pertain to vomiting. Test your child for COVID, if possible.
Always keep a child home from school if you suspect dehydration, or if diarrhea and vomiting are accompanied by pain or a fever of 38.5°C or higher. Send them back when the symptoms subside and they can tolerate liquids and solid food without being ill.FotoDuets/ Getty Images
The College of Family Physicians of Canada says that Gravol (Dimenhydrinate) appears to be safe for kids two years and older. If your child is younger, ask your doctor for advice.
Gravol is most effective for vomiting caused by motion sickness. Doctors generally do not recommend using it for gastroenteritis (“stomach flu”), since the virus will resolve on its own, and it’s more important to focus on staying hydrated.SeventyFour/ Getty Images
Cleaning up kid vomit is among the most awful parenting jobs out there. Here are a few tips to make it just the tiniest bit better.
It definitely canbe, depending on the cause of the vomiting. Viral gastroenteritis is very contagious, and if you’re taking care of your child or cleaning up, you’re definitely at risk. Wash your hands obsessively, and your kid's, too. Clean anything that has vomit on it with very hot water. Some parents clean up vomit wearing rubber gloves, and that’s not a bad idea.Imgorthand/ Getty Images