When to worry about vomiting

Vomiting is a very broad sign because babies vomit for a variety of reasons and even sometimes, no reason at all! At some point, every baby will vomit. The last thing I want to do is have you panicking every time your baby vomits. Babies also regurgitate their feeds which can look like vomiting. With regurgitation, partially digested food from the stomach somersaults back into the mouth in a non-forceful way. They may chew on the food and swallow it again, or happily allow it to effortlessly trickle out of their mouth with no associated distress.

Babies also regurgitate their feeds which can be mistaken for vomiting. With regurgitation, partially digested food from the stomach somersaults back into the mouth in a non-forceful way. They may chew on the food and swallow it again, or happily allow it to effortlessly trickle out of their mouth with no associated distress.  Vomiting, on the other hand, tends to be a forceful return of their feed, often associated with gagging and discomfort.

Vomiting alone a difficult symptom to interpret, because it happens so frequently. The symptoms that appear in conjunction with your child’s vomiting create a better picture of whether you need to be worried or not.  Problematic vomiting needs assessment both to identify the cause and to ensure children do not become dehydrated. Here are some important symptoms that suggest your vomiting baby should be reviewed by a doctor. Seek a medical review if your child has these associated symptoms.

  • Green vomit, especially with abdominal distension, suggests a blockage somewhere in the intestinal tract. If this is a problem, it will show itself in the first one or two days of your baby’s life as their first feeds arrive at the blockage. However, this can occur in the later weeks, especially if your child has a hernia. Save the bib, muslin cloth where the green vomit landed and bring it to the hospital with you. Sounds weird, but the doctors will appreciate it.
  • Vomit that always happens during or after a feed (especially if it flies across the room, or your baby always seems unsettled) suggests reflux or obstruction of the stomach outlet. This type of obstruction tends to appear when your baby is around 3-12 weeks old. The baby will feed eagerly and then vomit partially digested food that flies across the room within half an hour of finishing the feed. His vomit is not green in colour and the baby will not typically be screaming or distressed.
  • Vomiting baby who also has loose stools or constipation, cradle cap or eczema. If your baby has these, as well as irritability or discomfort around feeds, slow weight gain or constantly congested nose suggests a food intolerance or allergy, it may be because of an intolerance and inability to digest the milk their being fed.
  • Fever, irritability, lethargy, rash, poor feeding or offensive smelling urine suggests an underlying infection. As I mentioned earlier, vomiting is such a nonspecific symptom that the infection may not necessarily be in the digestive tract in order to cause vomiting.
  • Vomiting with abdominal pain andred jam” like blood in stools. Intussusception typically happens in babies from 3-36 months old, who suddenly turn from being happy and cheerful to being miserable, pale and sweaty while pulling up their legs in discomfort. These episodes last for a few minutes and then stop as suddenly as they started and your baby goes back to being happy as Larry. If your child does not have blood in their stools, but has the rest of these symptoms, and they do not settle with the release of a big fart or hard stool, it is worth having a doctor review your child.

 

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