How to Deal With a Vomiting Toddler

The face of a sick toddler

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Is your child frequently throwing up several times a week but does not appear to be feeling ill otherwise? Surprisingly, this is a common occurrence in younger children. Some toddlers vomit when having a tantrum or just crying. Others vomit when they have too much food in their mouth. And some vomit for no known reason at all.

Possible Causes

Here are some other possible causes for vomiting in young children:

  • Sensitive gag reflex: Your child may have a sensitive gag reflex.
  • Food allergy or intolerance: A food allergy or intolerance might be another cause, especially if you can link the vomiting to a specific thing that your child is eating.
  • Delayed gastric emptying: Foods move more slowly through the stomachs of children with delayed gastric emptying. That means that the things that they eat and drink stay in their stomach longer and explains why they may vomit the previous night's dinner the next morning. This condition is sometimes treated with the medication Reglan, although many parents report that their children have side effects when taking it. Another option is a low dose of the antibiotic erythromycin, which can increase the rate of gastric emptying in children.

Diagnosis

If you are concerned about your child's vomiting, it is good to discuss it with your child's pediatrician.

Warning signs that the vomiting needs further diagnosis are if your child isn't gaining weight well or is losing weight, is eating less or choking when eating, is often fussy, isn't developing normally, or if symptoms begin occurring more often.

Keep a Symptom Diary

This is a paper or digital log in which you record the date and time that your child vomits, what they were doing just before it happened (like eating or crying), what they last had to eat and drink, and the date and time of their last feeding.

Ask About Testing

Ask your child's pediatrician if it's a good idea for some further testing to be done, like an upper-GI series barium X-ray. During this type of exam, the child swallows a liquid that contains barium, which spreads onto the walls of the esophagus and stomach. This coating then shows up on an X-ray and enables a doctor to look for any abnormalities, like strictures, ulcers, hiatal hernias, erosions, or tumors. 

Get a Second Opinion

If you are not comfortable with what your kid's pediatrician is saying, you might consider getting a second opinion from a pediatric gastroenterologist. This is especially important if the warning signs are worsening.

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