Toddler and Infant Vomiting

Toddler and infant vomiting (or throwing up) is a common symptom. Most of the time, it is just normal and does not suggest anything serious is wrong with your baby or toddler. Very occasionally, toddler or infant vomiting will indicate a serious disorder.

This page will help you understand what may be happening and also has links to pages of specific disorders that may cause vomiting. You can click on the link below to go directly to a specific section, or just read on for an overview.


Vomiting in a Baby

All babies will throw up (vomit) a little. We call these spills or possets and these are the most usual cause of infant vomiting. Sometimes, these possets are a little blood-stained - this is usually no cause for alarm.

Milk coming from the stomach, back up the esophagus and out the mouth is also called gastro-esophageal refluxRead more. It is easy (and normal) for babies to spill because:

  • they have relatively weak muscles surrounding the end of the esophagus as it enters the stomach (the gastro-esophageal junction), so it doesn't "close" so well and contents from the stomach can come back into the esophagus easily - so babies vomit.
  • they have a liquid diet - milk. It would be much harder for steak to come back into the esophagus even with weak muscles at the gastro-esophageal junction.
  • they are mostly lying down, and even when they are upright, as babies do not have much tone in their trunk muscles, they are hunched forward putting pressure on the stomach. You and I have gravity working for us to keep our food in our stomach - babies do not.

The most important factor in determining whether infant vomiting is a problem or not is to look at the rest of your baby. You don't have to worry if she is:

  • gaining weight
  • happy
  • developing normally (ie. learning new tricks all the time)
  • otherwise well in herself

Vomiting in a Toddler

As your child gets older, it will be easier to figure out what's happening. 

For some toddlers, it is easy to vomit, but I don't get too worried if they only do this occasionally (once a day or so), as long as everything else is normal.

The most common reason for a toddler to vomit if she has a fever is gastroenteritis - read more.

If you are still worried about your toddler or infant vomiting, look at the information below and read more about those situations. Click here


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To go to the top of the Toddler and Infant Vomiting page, click here

To read about Gastro-esophageal Reflux, click here - read about gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and the simple strategies to manage it.

To read about Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, click here - information on when gastroesophageal reflux (GER) becomes gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) with information on treatment for acid reflux and silent reflux.

To read about Zantac, click here - Zantac is an acid suppressing medication that is used in GERD. Zantac is the common brand of a medication called ranitidine.

If your baby has projectile vomiting, click here -projectile vomiting is forceful. It can be a sign of pyloric stenosis which is seen in babies in the first months of life.

If your baby has diarrhea as well, click here - information on gastroenteritis and what you can do, including information on signs of dehydration

If your baby has bile-stained vomiting, click here -bile is bright green. More information on what causes bile-stained vomit and what to do about it.

If your baby has tummy pain, click here - Information on Intussusception - babies get bouts of crying and drawing up the legs

If you have a little boy and his scrotum looks swollen, click here -information on inguinal hernias and what you can do

To check if your baby or toddler has signs of dehyration, click here

To read about how to stop vomiting, click here

To return to the Home page, click here 

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Last reviewed on 26 May 2011.

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Dr Maud MD

Dr Maud MD (MBChB, FRACP, FRCPCH), a specialist pediatrician, provides health information and medical advice for parents of babies and toddlers. Read more about Dr Maud.

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