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It is fairly common for babies to be sick. Babies
often vomit when they swallow air during feeding. This is
completely normal and will usually stop after the first few months.
Making sure that your baby is in a good position when feeding and
winding your baby properly afterwards will help to keep vomiting to
a minimum.

However, persistent vomiting can sometimes be a
sign of something more serious. The most common cause in both
children and babies is gastroenteritis. This is an infection of the
gut usually caused by a virus or bacteria and is unusual in
breastfed babies. It also causes diarrhoea. Your child’s
immune system will usually fight off the infection after a few

Causes of vomiting in

  • Swallowing lots of air during feeding (more common with bottle
    fed babies)
  • Gastroenteritis (an infection of the gut)
  • A food allergy or milk intolerance
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux, which is when stomach acid escapes
    back up the gullet
  • Too big a hole in the bottle teat, causing your baby to drink
    too much milk
  • Accidentally swallowing a drug or poison
  • A birth condition where the passage from
    the stomach to the bowel has narrowed and food cannot
    pass through easily, causing projectile vomiting. This
    condition is called congenital pyloric stenosis
  • A blockage, like a hernia, in your baby’s bowel. They
    will vomit frequently and cry as if in great pain

If your baby is vomiting, carry on breastfeeding
or bottle feeding as usual. If they seem dehydrated (see below),
they will need extra fluids. Ask your pharmacist if they would
recommend oral rehydration fluids for your baby. Oral rehydration
fluid is a special powder that you make up into a drink, which
contains sugar and salts in specific amounts to help replace the
water and salts lost through vomiting and diarrhoea. Brands include
Dioralyte, Electrolade and Rehidrat.

Severe vomiting and diarrhoea can easily lead to dehydration,
especially in young babies. This means your child’s body does not
have enough water or the right balance of salts to carry out its
normal functions.


Signs of dehydration

Children with dehydration often feel and look
unwell. The signs of dehydration are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Crying without producing tears
  • Passing urine (wee) less than usual, or not wetting many
  • Increased thirst
  • Floppiness
  • Lethargy

Choose care at home if…

  • Your baby vomits small amounts shortly after feeding. This is
    normal and nothing to worry about
  • Your baby has been vomiting larger amounts or more often, but
    has been vomiting like this for less than 24 hours

Choose your pharmacist or GP

  • Your child has a high temperature (fever) of 38ºc
    (100.4ºf) or above if they are less than three months old, or 39ºc
    (102.2ºf) or above if they are between three and six months
    old(call your GP or GP out-of-hours service)
  • Your child has been vomiting for more than 24 hours
  • Your child has not been able to hold down fluids for
    the last eight hours, or you think they are dehydrated
  • They are floppy, irritable, off their food or
    generally not their usual self
  • They have severe 
    tummy pain
  • They have a headache and stiff neck – call your GP


Choose 999 A&E if…

  • Your child has a high temperature but their hands and feet
    feel cold
  • Your child has a bulging fontanelle (the soft spot at the
    top of a baby’s head)
  • Your child has a fit (seizure)
  • Your child turns blue, blotchy or very pale
  • Your child has a stiff neck
  • Your child has breathing problems, like breathing fast or
    grunting while breathing, or they seem to be working harder than
    usual to breathe (for example, sucking in under the ribcage)

Your child has a spotty, purple-red rash anywhere on their
body (this could be sign of meningitis, which is a serious


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