Vomiting in Children: Causes & Treatment | Kids Clinic Singapore

Vomiting in Children

What Causes Vomiting in Children?


A child with stomach flu or food poisoning may present with acute vomiting, sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea.

Most acute vomiting is caused by a viral infection of the lining of the stomach (“stomach flu”) or by food poisoning. Often, a child who is vomiting may also develop diarrhoea (acute gastroenteritis). Occasionally, the acute vomiting may be caused by a more serious illness, such as intestinal obstruction (blockage of the bowels) or acute appendicitis (inflammation of the appendix), which will require urgent surgical attention.


If the vomiting is associated with severe headache, drowsiness or neurological signs detected by the doctor, then infection of the brain (meningitis/encephalitis) or a bleed or growth in the brain may be possible causes. There are many other causes of vomiting, including urinary tract infection (UTI), ear infection (otitis media), chest infection (e.g. pneumonia), poisoning or accidental ingestions etc.

Consult a Paediatrician Immediately if :


  • Your child shows any signs of dehydration (such as no urine for more than 8 hours, dry mouth/lips, no tears when crying, sunken eyes etc)
  • The vomit is bloody or greenish in colour
  • There is painful swelling/distension of the abdomen
  • The vomiting is persistent, that is, unable to tolerate a small amount of fluid at frequent intervals.
  • Your child complains of persistent abdominal pain or if there is shifting of the pain to the right lower abdomen
  • Your child complains of severe headache, is drowsy/difficult to awaken, or unsteady when walking
  • Your child appears pale, lethargic or breathless
  • Your child’s vomiting occurred after a head injury/fall
  • Your child has persistent high fever associated with the vomiting
  • You suspect that your child has accidentally ingested some drugs/chemicals before he/she vomited

How is Vomiting in Children Treated?


The vomiting usually stops in 6 to 24 hours. If your child has diarrhoea, it will often continue for several days. Your child’s paediatrician will usually prescribe certain medications to reduce the vomiting and/or diarrhoea. If the vomiting is severe and your child is unable to tolerate oral fluids, there may be a need to administer anti-vomiting medication through injection or as a suppository. If these fail to stop the vomiting, your child may have to be admitted for intravenous fluids (“drip”) and monitoring.

Feeding Advice For Vomiting Due To “Stomach Flu”


  1. Offer small amounts of clear fluid for 8 hours (no solid food): Offer clear fluids in small amounts until 8 hours have passed without vomiting. You can offer glucose water, barley, rice water or oral re-hydration solution such as Hydralyte. Avoid giving just plain water alone. Start with 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of the clear fluid, depending on your child’s age, every 5 minutes (or 15 to 30 ml every 15 minutes). After 4 hours without vomiting, double the amount each hour. If your child vomits using this treatment, rest the stomach complete for 1 hour and then start over but with a smaller amount.
  2. Offer bland foods after 8 hours without vomiting: For older children, they can start on porridge, bread, biscuits, bland soups or mashed potatoes. For infants, they can start on milk feeds, but give 1 or 2 ounces less per feed than usual. Usually, your child can be back on a normal diet within 24 hours after recovery from vomiting.
  3. Diet for breast-fed babies: Provide breast milk in smaller amounts than usual. Nurse on only 1 side for 5 minutes every 30 to 60 minutes. If there is no more vomiting for 8 hours, return to normal nursing on both sides.

Read other health topics related to abdominal issues in babies and young children:

About Kids Clinic

Because we believe that healthy children make happy parents. From newborns to toddlers, our experienced paediatricians are trained to meet a child’s health needs as they grow.

Our Kids Clinic branches are conveniently located in the heartlands for a fast and fuss-free visit.

A Singapore Medical Group Clinic

Incorporated in 2005, Singapore Medical Group (SMG) is a private specialist and primary healthcare provider with a network of more than 20 medical specialties. The Group is committed to its promise of providing patient centred medical care and experience to every individual. SMG has 35 clinics and a growing network of SMG Associates all across the island.

For same-day consults/ appointments, kindly walk in to our clinics directly.

For same-day consults/appointments, kindly walk in to our clinics directly.

For same-day consults/appointments, kindly walk in to our clinics directly.

For same-day consults/appointments, kindly walk in to our clinics directly.

For same-day consults/appointments, kindly walk in to our clinics directly.

For same-day consults/appointments, kindly walk in to our clinics directly.

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