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Most instances of vomiting and diarrhea in infants and children are caused by the presence of other viruses, such as strep throat, ear infections, or respiratory/sinus infections. Vomiting and diarrhea are usually short lived and will go away on their own. While you are waiting them out, it is best to try to keep your child well hydrated and comfortable. Below, find a few tips on how to most effectively treat vomiting and diarrhea and keep your child as comfortable as possible under these difficult circumstances.


Vomiting can be caused by a number of things. Typically, vomiting in children is caused by gastroenteritis, also known as the “stomach flu”, which is usually due to a virus infecting the gastrointestinal tract.


  • If your child who is retching or heaving should NOT be given food or drink, as this will merely prolong vomiting. It is best to wait until the stomach is completely empty and there have been no vomiting or retching for at least an hour or two

  • Since weakness and low blood sugar are typically the cause of nausea, try to raise your child’s blood sugar. For infants and younger children under 12 months, try Pedialyte. For older children, try something with sugar that can be absorbed through the inside of the cheek, such as a lollipop or hard candy. Additionally, canned fruit syrup and jelly do not require much to be sitting in the stomach and will raise the blood sugar

  • After blood sugar has been raised, offer small amounts of a clear, sugary fluid to be gradually absorbed by the stomach, such as: flat, clear, decaffeinated soda, white grape juice, ice pops, ice, or decaffeinated, sweetened iced tea. Even if your child is very thirsty, go slowly with these fluids as to avoid further nausea


Contact your doctor if your child has any of the following symptoms:

  • A severe or prolonged episode of vomiting

  • Fever of 102°F or higher

  • Repeated vomiting

  • Refusal to drink fluids

  • Severe abdominal pain

  • Dry or sticky mouth

  • Drying of the insides of the eyes and mouth

  • Lack of tear production or sunken soft spots in infants

  • Little or no urine output in a six to eight hour period

  • Dehydration


Remember when you first brought your child home as an infant? Every time you fed him, he soiled his diaper. This is because the body has a gastro-colic reflex, and there is no tone to the anal sphincter when children are very young. Every time you introduce something into the stomach, the colon starts moving things along and the rectal sphincter relaxes to expel whatever happens to be down there. If things are moving rapidly through the intestinal tract (as in the case of a viral illness), the contents do not sit in the colon/rectum long enough for the body to reabsorb any excess water. This is why it appears that the fluids you are giving by mouth are coming out immediately the other end. Be persistent during this challenging time. Continue to administer fluids and the body will eventually recover.

  • In general, children under 12 months of age should receive fluid replacement in the form of Pedialyte or one of the other electrolyte replacement solutions on the market in small amounts. If your child is not vomiting, keep offering fluids as tolerated and monitor hydration status.

  • If you are breastfeeding, continue to do so with small, frequent feedings.

  • If you are bottle feeding, offer only Pedialyte for the first 24 hours. Then switch to a non-milk-based or lactose-free formula for a few days. It is often a good idea to do 24 hours of Pedialyte only, followed by 12-24 hours of half-Pedialyte, half-lactose-free/soy formula, followed by full-strength (mixed according to the directions on the can) lactose-free/soy formula for a few days.

  • If your child is eating solids, you can reintroduce bland foods once you know they are tolerating full strength formula.

Seek medical attention if your child appears dehydrated, symptoms persist longer than expected (vomiting continues longer than 24 hours and/or diarrhea persists longer than 7 days), your child appears very ill/listless, abdominal pain or diarrhea is accompanied by severe abdominal pain/cramps and/or has mucus or blood in it.

  • No tears with crying

  • The inside of the mouth looks dry or tacky

  • Not urinating at least 3 times in 24 hours

  • Significant lethargy, irritability or weakness.

  • Sunken fontanelle in infants.

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