It can be hard to tell the difference between vomiting and regurgitation (spitting up), especially in babies (see Regurgitation). A baby who vomits will appear to be making an effort. The quantity of vomit produced also tends to be larger than regurgitation. The child may also appear to have a stomach ache.

What to do?

Essential information to remember

Vomiting can be a sign of infection. For information on how to prevent the transmission of infections to others, see Preventing infections.

Most vomiting does not require any special action.

But a child who vomits repeatedly can become dehydrated. Take steps to prevent dehydration (see Preventing dehydration) and watch for the signs of dehydration.

If you suspect a food allergy, see Food allergies.

If your child also has a fever, see What to do if your child has a fever.

When to consult a health professional

Most vomiting does not require medical treatment. Contact Info-Santé (8-1-1) or your doctor if vomiting persists for more than

  • 12 hours, for a child under 3 months old
  • 24 hours, for a child between 3 months and 2 years old

See a doctor right away if your child vomits and shows any of the following signs:

  • She appears to be in pain (e.g., she is very irritable, constantly cries, or curls her legs up against her belly).
  • She exhibits unusual behaviour (e.g., is difficult to wake, sleepier than usual, or responds little to others).
  • She shows signs of moderate to severe dehydration (see Dehydrated baby).
  • She has green or blood-tinged vomiting (red or brown).
  • There is blood in her stools (red or black stools).
  • She projectile vomits several times a day.
  • She vomits more than once following a blow to the head.

Call 9-1-1 if your child develops red patches accompanied by sudden vomiting: this may be a severe allergic reaction.

An Info-Santé nurse (8-1-1) can advise you at any time.