Vomiting in babies is usually harmless. Though, if a few other symptoms occur or the baby puke happens frequently and persistently, a doctor should be consulted. Babies and children vomit more frequently than adults because their young stomachs are still much more sensitive to disturbing influences. Vomiting in babies and children happens primarily for protection against pathogens or other harmful substances in the digestive system. But it can also have other causes that are not directly related to problems in the gastrointestinal tract. As said, their stomach is still very sensitive, so that even hasty drinking or (joyful) excitement can bring the stomach contents back up. Besides such harmless causes of vomiting in babies and toddlers, however, there are also serious reasons for infant puke. Find out how you should react if you encounter infant vomit and discern when a visit to the doctor is needed.
What Are the Causes of Infant Vomiting and Intense Baby Puke?
There can be various infant vomiting causes and they might be concerning especially when you are a new parent. However, teething – like diarrhea – is not directly related to it. How long does teething last and how can you deal with this period? The puke may spit up while the baby is teething, but the cause is rarely the teething itself and it is definitely not one of the direct infant vomiting reasons. The loss of fluids during vomiting can make babies lethargic and sleepy. This may cause them to oversleep through regular meal hours and therefore not take enough fluids. Infant puke is a gushing type of occurrence seen in babies from 0 to 3 months. If it is shortly after a meal, combined with the failure to thrive, it indicates a narrowing in the stomach outlet (pyloric stenosis). When babies and children get sick, digestion often slows down as well. The stomach doesn’t empty as quickly, so food comes back up more easily.
Possible causes of vomiting in babies and toddlers include:
- Gastrointestinal infections (usually accompanied by diarrhea)
- Spoiled food
- Drinks that are too cold
- Eating too many different types of food together
- Swallowing objects or toxic substances
- Certain medications
- In rare cases, vomiting can occur as a result of certain medical conditions. Some examples include:
- Green color vomit in infants happens in cases of intestinal obstruction or intestinal impaction.
- Stomach or intestinal inflammation (blood is seen in the vomit)
- Brain diseases
- Metabolic disorders
- In addition, vomiting in children can also have psychological causes, because the urge to vomit is controlled by the brain. For example, children sometimes vomit when they are under a hefty amount of stress and anxiety, or when they are very excited or particularly looking forward to something.
When to See a Doctor About Baby Puke?
Most of the vomiting cases in babies and children are harmless and pass after a short time. The basics you can provide are to give fluids, rinse the mouth after vomiting, cool the forehead, and hold the child upright when vomiting. Sometimes vomiting can indicate serious illnesses which require immediate action. Persistent vomiting, additional diarrhea or fever, refusal to drink are important signs you should look for. You should always see a doctor if we are talking about newborns.
Recommended first aid measures for vomiting in toddler or baby are:
- Replace lost fluids: In every infant vomiting differential diagnosis; the most important measure is to provide the baby or toddler with enough fluids when they vomit. It makes up for the loss due to vomiting. After they puke, give them small amounts of fluids such as lukewarm water at frequent intervals (usually one teaspoon every five minutes). If the young patient does not spit the fluid back out, you can slowly increase the given amount.
- If the vomiting is accompanied by diarrhea and yellow infant vomit is seen: The body can lose a lot of fluids as well as electrolytes (sodium, potassium, etc.). The same goes for when you see mucus in infant vomit. In these situations, it is advisable to administer special electrolyte solutions from the pharmacy (WHO drinking solution of glucose and salts).
- Home remedy: Many parents use home remedies for infant puke or vomiting, especially if there is an infant vomiting yellow mucus or diarrhea is also present. After the baby pukes, they are often given diluted juice or water with a little dextrose and salt – a home-made electrolyte solution. But a ready-made solution from the pharmacy is usually the better choice: the correct composition is guaranteed there. Even in infancy, a thin carrot soup (carrot is also good against diarrhea), which is pureed, lightly salted, and sugared in small portions, has proven its worth – provided your child likes it. If they don’t, they will vomit it all up again right away (see below).
- If your child has just vomited: You can put a cool cloth on their forehead (if they feel comfortable doing so). It can relieve the nausea and dizziness that often comes with vomiting. For an older child, after vomiting, you can offer to rinse the mouth with water or tea to get rid of the bad taste.
- Give little or nothing to eat: An irritated stomach, in the case of an infant vomiting yellow mucus, should not be bothered further even with light foods such as rusks. So, it doesn’t matter if your child doesn’t eat for some time after they vomit – it’s more important that they drink enough fluids! If you normally breastfeed your child or feed them breast milk substitute, then you can continue to do so even after your baby pukes. However, make sure to give them some slight meals and not unnecessarily big ones. By the way: Babies often tolerate formula better if you dilute it (e.g. with half milk, half water).
Vomiting or Spitting Up? What Is the Difference?
You see milk on their bib: Has your baby vomited? Not necessarily! We must distinguish between regurgitation and vomiting. Regurgitation or reflux is a passive ascent of intestinal fillings into the throat. There is no effort made by the baby. It goes up by itself, so to speak. It concerns mostly babies less than one year of age. What does infant vomit look like? Vomiting or baby puke is an active discharge of digestive contents with an effort. It concerns children of all ages. Note also that a baby who regurgitates is generally fine in all other respects while a baby who vomits may show other symptoms of illness.
How Will We Be Attentive to Our Infant When They Vomit?
Why does a baby vomit?Vomiting or baby puke is not a specific symptom of pathology. A baby can vomit because he has gastroenteritis, a urinary infection, a cranial trauma… There are many infant vomit reasons that can cause nausea. We cannot detect anything with only vomiting as a symptom. It is then essential to be attentive to the baby on the whole. Do they have a fever? Diarrhea? Pimples? A lump? Your baby is vomiting: as we said before, the right and the first thing to do is to rehydrate your baby. Let’s go over on how you can do this. Your baby’s diet is the central point here and there are only two cases:
- If he is breast-fed, you can give him another feed
- If he is bottle-fed, you can give him an oral rehydration solution (ORS). They don’t require a prescription and are easily acquired in any pharmacy.
Either way, the ideal is to give these in small doses. This will allow your baby to be rehydrated gently and recover from the stage of vomiting. If you are breastfeeding, give them small feeds a bit more regularly. If they are bottle-fed, offer, for example, 10ml of oral rehydration solution every 10 minutes for 4 to 6 hours, before giving him his usual milk or a different food if he is already diversified.
- Another point to watch is the weight.
Keep their starting weight in mind, before they started vomiting. If they have lost weight with baby puke, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
When Should You Seek Help About Baby Puke?
- If your baby has only vomited once, you can see how they are doing and start rehydrating them as instructed above.
- If you have any doubts or further questions, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor or ask a healthcare professional for advice.
- On the other hand, if they have vomited several times and vomiting does not seem to subside, consult your doctor quickly.
In the following cases, parents should have their child examined by a doctor as soon as possible:
- Diarrhea occurs at the same time (you should always pay attention to your baby’s poop color as well);
- The vomit is grassy to dark green in color
- There is blood in the vomit
- A young infant vomits repeatedly for more than four hours
- The infant has a fever
- The infant cannot be induced to drink
- There has been a previous fall or accident
- There is severe abdominal pain at the same time
- The child is listless and noticeably quiet
- The child has a stiff neck
- The child vomits very frequently and has a “fruit-like” bad breath.