What to look out for
Children can get vomiting and diarrhoea either on their own or together. When someone gets vomiting and diarrhoea together, it is called gastro-enteritis. Gastro-enteritis is caused by a tummy bug, usually from contaminated food or close contact with someone who already has symptoms. For instance, children who attend a crèche or school often pick up tummy bugs that cause vomiting because these bugs spread easily among children who are in close contact, especially among toddlers.
Your child’s vomiting will usually last between 6 and 12 hours.
Watch our video about how to tackle a tummy bug.
What can you do
Keep your child home from crèche or school. Give them plenty of clear drinks such as flat (not fizzy) white lemonade, sports drinks or oral rehydration drinks which you can get without a prescription in your pharmacy. Do not offer any food until 6 hours after the last vomit.
If your baby is breast-fed, you can continue to offer breast milk. If the baby is bottle-fed, they should be able to tolerate small milk feeds.
Make sure your child washes their hands after vomiting or going to the toilet to avoid spreading the infection to others.
Also, be very careful about washing your own hands after changing nappies or cleaning up vomit spills. Clean spills with hot water and detergent then disinfect the area with dilute solution of household bleach.
Do not give your child medicines to stop the vomiting unless your doctor advises this.
When to seek help
Contact your doctor if:
- your child’s vomiting lasts more than 6 hours
- you notice blood in your child’s vomit
- your child complains of bad tummy pain with the vomiting
- your child cannot keep down any liquids
- your child is on medication for another condition and can’t take it because of the vomiting
- you are worried about your child’s vomiting.
The younger the child, the sooner you should contact your doctor. Always contact a doctor for a baby with vomiting.
As you can probably guess, this website can’t replace the advice you might get from a health professional. If you are worried about your child, please call or visit your GP or pharmacist.