Stomach viruses are the most common reason children vomit, according to Dr. William Sears, author of "The Portable Pediatrician." Antibiotics have no effect on viral infections; they normally go away on their own after several days, but can be very upsetting to children. There are several home remedies that can soothe the stomach and provide much-needed nutrients to a child struggling to keep food down. It's impossible for a layperson to determine the cause of stomach problems without a consultation with a doctor, so don't assume your child has a virus just because she's vomiting. A child who vomits or has diarrhea for more than 24 hours should see a pediatrician.
In her book, "Health, Safety and Nutrition for the Young Child," Lynn Marotz points out that blueberries are easily digestible and contain antioxidants that may help soothe an upset stomach. Make your child a blueberry shake by combining blueberries and ice in a blender. Encourage your child to sip the shake slowly over an hour or so rather than drinking it all at once.
Electrolytes and Water
Children who vomit or have severe diarrhea will quickly become dehydrated. Give you child at least 4 oz. of water every hour. Your child may still vomit the water, but continued hydration prevents dry heaving and your child will absorb some of the water even if he throws up. Electrolyte supplements may also help keep your child hydrated. Consult your pediatrician as to whether you should give your child an electrolyte drink. However, you should avoid giving your sick child drinks that contain added sugar.
Some foods are particularly hard on the digestive system and can increase bloating, gas, constipation and abdominal pain. Sears suggests that children should avoid apples, dairy products, white bread, sugary foods, carrots and bananas, as they may all exacerbate stomach problems.
Children with stomach viruses thrive on bland foods like dry whole-wheat toast and unsweetened oatmeal. The American Academy of Pediatrics points out that these food items may lessen vomiting. Foods such as raisins, prunes, plums, apricots, grapes and flax oil may have healing properties that soothe the stomach, according to Sears. They are easy to digest and promote the development of healthy intestinal bacteria. Make your child a smoothie containing several of these foods with a tablespoon of flax oil.
Children who are still breastfeeding should continue to do so when they have stomach viruses. Breast milk contains valuable antibodies that strengthen the immune system. Breast milk also comforts children who are upset, afraid or in pain. Breastfeed your child on demand while she is sick. Follow your normal breastfeeding diet, but avoid consuming large quantities of foods that are irritating to the stomach, particularly dairy products.
- "The Portable Pediatrician"; Dr. William Sears, et al.; 2011
- "Caring For Your Baby and Young Child, 5th Edition"; American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009
- "Health, Safety and Nutrition for the Young Child"; Lynn R. Marotz; 2011