Vomiting and diarrhoea
Vomiting and diarrhoea cause your baby to lose a lot of fluid. This can be very dangerous, especially in hot weather or if the baby has a fever. These illnesses may or may not be caused by an infection.
This is when the baby’s bowel actions become much more watery and more frequent than usual. There may be mucous or blood in the bowel actions and they may be very smelly.
Almost all babies bring up a bit of milk (and some a lot of milk) without distress. This is normal. But if baby is suddenly vomiting a lot more, or it occurs frequently over an hour or two, it could be serious. The vomiting may accompany other signs of illness, like fever or diarrhoea.
When baby is under 6 months:
- Don’t try to manage it yourself — contact your doctor straight away.
- Continue to breastfeed (small, frequent feeds are recommended).
- If bottle feeding, stop giving formula. Offer 50 ml of cooled boiled water (at room temperature) every hour until you see the doctor.
When baby is over 6 months:
- Continue to breastfeed, and offer 50-100 ml of clear fluids in between breastfeeds.
- If bottle feeding, stop giving formula for 12-24 hours. Give clear fluids instead. When vomiting and diarrhoea settles, or after 24 hours, recommence usual formula.
- If baby is on solids, stop for 24 hours, then slowly re-introduce them, starting with rice, pasta, potato, toast or bread, or baby rice cereal. The aim is to return to a normal diet within two to three days of the illness settling.
- Don’t give medicine unless your doctor says so. Clear fluids for babies and children over 6 months
- Mix 5 ml of cordial (not low cal) with 100 ml of tap water.
- Mix 20 ml of fizzy drink (not low cal) with 80 ml of tap water.
- Mix 20 ml unsweetened clear fruit juice with 80 ml of tap water.
- Consult your chemist regarding fluid replacement powder to be mixed with water (electrolyte solutions). These usually come in sachet form, and help replace important minerals lost, like sugar and salts. Always follow the directions on the packet carefully.
- Keep the sick baby or child away from other children.
- Wash all children’s hands after they go to the toilet and before they eat any meals.
- Wash your hands after attending to the sick child, after changing nappies and before preparing food and bottles.
- Wash the sick baby’s/child’s clothes and nappies separately from the rest of the family’s, to prevent cross infection.
- If your baby is less than six months old and has vomiting and diarrhoea.
- If baby/child can’t stop vomiting and can’t keep the right amount of fluid down.
- If there is any bile stained (greenish) vomit, or signs of blood in the vomit.
- If there is blood or mucous in their motions.
- If your baby/child becomes sleepier than normal, or is hard to wakeup, or is limp.
- If your baby/child is having less than half their normal fluid intake.
- If your baby/child has sunken eyes.
- If your baby’s/child’s mouth or tongue feels dry.
- If your baby/child goes four to six hours or more without a wet nappy.
- If your child has a fever (>38.5°C).
- If your baby/child is very irritable and unable to be consoled.
- If your baby/child has other health problems or does not seem to be getting any better.