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Nighttime Vomiting in Children

author image Julie Boehlke
Julie is an avid outdoor enthusiast who loves to camp with friends and family. Julie spends her free time writing, working on her novel and brewing up new recipes of wine—her newest hobby. She enjoys scouring junk shops and antique boutiques in search of rare finds and one of-a-kind treasures. She collects vintage dishes and antiquarian books. Julie spends her days being followed around aimlessly by her most adoring fan—Mushu the pug. She ventures out on weekends to the remote trails and deep north woods of Michigan. Julie also enjoys exploring out of the way nooks and crannies along the great lakes shoreline.
Nighttime Vomiting in Children
Nighttime is a common time for some children to get sick.

No one likes to see a sick child. If your child is waking up in the middle of the night and getting sick by having an upset stomach and vomiting, finding a solution is key in maintaining his health. Vomiting, or emesis, can be a temporary or isolated event caused by a virus or something that he ate, or it could be the indication of a much more serious medical issue.

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Vomiting can be quite scary for your child, especially when it awakens her in the middle of the night. Her feelings of intense nausea indicate that her stomach is unsettled and she likely feels the need to regurgitate. Medline Plus explains that vomiting is forceful action of the diaphragm muscle in an intense downward contraction. The sphincter is opened to release the contents of the stomach in a propelled upward and outward motion to expel food and liquid. An increase in saliva and a slight rise in body temperature may also occur.

Time Frame

Vomiting itself generally only lasts a few seconds, followed by further possible episodes of regurgitation. Vomiting caused from a stomach flu or gastroenteritis may only last for 24 hours and come and go in small episodes. It can sometimes occur after bedtime, when your child is lying down flat. If he is suffering from a serious medical condition such as hepatitis, head injury or diabetic ketoacidosis (high blood glucose), the condition will have to be addressed and treated before the vomiting will subside.


Certain conditions can cause nighttime vomiting in your child. Acid reflux disease can flare up at night, especially after first laying down, as the acids and undigested food can begin to travel back into the esophagus. Family Doctor explains that some illnesses can cause an upset stomach or stomach pain that may lead to vomiting. Some of the most common include gastroenteritis or stomach flu, migraine headaches, parasites, appendicitis, motion sickness, hepatitis, food positioning, pancreatitis, ulcer, severe heartburn, head injury, cancer or ketoacidosis.


It is important to keep a close watch on your child when she is sick and vomiting at night. In small children, she can swallow or choke on her vomit when lying down or falling asleep. Persistent vomiting that lasts more than two days should be evaluated by a medical doctor to rule out serious medical problems. If the vomiting is also followed by diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain or any other type of sharp or sudden pain, emergency care should be instituted. The Mayo Clinic states dehydration in your child could lead to shock, seizures, cerebral edema, kidney failure or death if left untreated.


If your child goes to bed at night with an upset stomach, try having him lay in an upright position to reduce acid from rising up the esophagus. Use a wedge pillow or several pillows propped upright to elevate his upper body. Settle his stomach by using an antacid pill or liquid that will help curb nausea and fight back acid. Slowly introduce fluids, continually but in small amounts, to prevent further regurgitation. Kids Health recommends using an oral electrolyte solution or having him drink fluids that contain electrolytes, such as sports drinks found on your grocer's shelves.

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