Vomiting in children and babies

It's normal for babies and children to vomit occasionally. In most cases, it will last no longer than 1 to 2 days. It isn't usually a sign of anything serious.

Immediate action required: Phone 999 or go to A&E if:

Your child is vomiting and:

  • develops sudden and severe tummy pain, or they're floppy, irritable or less responsive
  • has a headache, stiff neck and a rash
  • might have swallowed something poisonous
  • there's blood in the vomit, or the vomit looks like ground coffee
  • the vomit is green or yellow-green
  • has a stiff neck and pain when looking at bright lights

Find your nearest A&E

Urgent advice: Speak to your GP if:

  • your child is repeatedly vomiting and is unable to hold down fluids
  • you think they're dehydrated – symptoms of dehydration can include a dry mouth, crying without producing tears, peeing less or not wetting many nappies, and drowsiness
  • their vomit is green or contains blood
  • they have been vomiting for more than a day or two
  • your child is vomiting and has symptoms of an infection such as a high temperature (fever) and irritability
  • you're worried about your child
  • your child stops breast or bottle feeding while they're ill
  • your child is a baby and has vomited 3 times or more in the past 24 hours

If your GP is closed, phone 111.

Looking after your child at home

In most cases, you can treat your child safely at home. Make sure they keep drinking fluids to prevent dehydration.

If your baby is vomiting, carry on breastfeeding or giving them milk feeds. If they seem dehydrated, they'll need extra fluids.

Children who are vomiting should keep taking small sips of clear fluid, such as water or clear broth. Fruit juice and fizzy drinks should be avoided until they're feeling better. If they're not dehydrated and haven't lost their appetite, it's fine for your child to eat solid foods as normal.

Speak to your GP or pharmacist if you're concerned about dehydration. They may recommend an oral rehydration solution for your child. Contact your GP practice if your child is unable to hold down oral rehydration solution.

Stay at home until at least 48 hours after the last episode of vomiting or diarrhoea to prevent spreading any infection to others.

Causes of vomiting in children

Causes of vomiting in children include:

Causes of vomiting in babies

Causes of vomiting in babies include:

  • gastroenteritis
  • a food allergy or milk intolerance
  • gastro-oesophageal reflux – where stomach contents escape back up the gullet
  • too big a hole in the bottle teat, which causes your baby to swallow too much milk
  • accidentally swallowing something poisonous
  • congenital pyloric stenosis – a condition present at birth where the passage from the stomach to the bowel has narrowed, so food is unable to pass through easily; this causes projectile vomiting
  • a strangulated hernia – your baby will vomit frequently and cry as if they're in a lot of pain; this should be treated as a medical emergency
  • intussusception (where the bowel telescopes in on itself) – as well as vomiting, your baby may look pale, floppy and have symptoms of dehydration

Last updated:
29 May 2023