Vomiting in babies

Vomiting in babies

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Many are familiar with the old saying "Speikind - thriving child". Almost every freshly baked mother is annoyed by this saying and is initially worried, especially with the first child, when the little one repeatedly vomits part of the food after breastfeeding or feeding. In this context, vomiting in babies is usually harmless as long as the child gains weight, does not refuse to eat, and thrives. The cause of this vomiting is a not yet fully developed closing mechanism at the stomach entrance, which causes some milk to flow back after eating, which is then spit out.

Difference spitting or real vomiting

The immature muscle at the stomach entrance mentioned at the beginning is to blame if babies often spit after eating in the first weeks after birth. This is not a "real" vomiting and usually subsides over time. If the child drinks well and grows well, there is no need to worry.

However, if the vomiting is gushy, the baby is weak, in a bad mood and / or has a fever, this is a case for the pediatrician. Infants lose fluid very quickly, which the body absolutely needs. It is therefore better to see a doctor than too little rather than too little. There are various causes for vomiting.

Tips to prevent spitting

To prevent spitting after a meal, care should be taken not to shake the bottle too much. The baby swallows the resulting air bubbles while drinking. The little ones get flatulence and the food flows more easily from the stomach back into the esophagus. Choosing the right vacuum is also important. This should correspond to the food and age of the baby. In order not to swallow too much at once, the hole in the teat should only be so large that the milk slowly drips out when the bottle is held down.

Babies who drink hastily are best kept upright and feeding is interrupted several times to make them “peasant”.

If the child is breastfed and the mother's breast is so full that the milk is already spurting out, it should be spread out a little before putting on. An upright posture is also recommended here.

Different causes of vomiting

There are several possible causes of vomiting in babies. It is important to lift the baby up immediately so that the vomit cannot be inhaled or swallowed. An infant who is vomiting should never be without supervision. Any vomiting should be clarified by a doctor.

Infectious diseases

Possible causes include not only infections of the gastrointestinal tract, but also diseases such as otitis media and urinary tract infections. If siblings have gastrointestinal infection, they should stay away from the infant. Frequent hand washing should be considered.

Pyloric stenosis

A pyloric stenosis is a narrowing of the stomach exit, due to a thickened ring muscles on the pylorus (gastric gatekeeper). The reasons for this are largely unknown. Male infants are particularly affected. The first symptoms usually appear in the first four weeks of life. The complaints can also only start from the 10th week. The main symptom here is gushing vomiting in the baby right after eating. This is increasing more and more. The baby loses weight, becomes lethargic, hardly excretes urine and threatens to become dehydrated. The massive lack of fluids can develop within a few hours. The sick babies show wrinkles on the face, deep dark circles, a sunken fontanelle and standing skin folds. These children must be treated as soon as possible. Surgery is necessary in most cases.

Gastroesophageal reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux means that gastric contents always run back into the esophagus. For most babies, this happens every now and then. However, if it happens frequently and the child suffers from it, it becomes an illness that can have serious consequences. The main symptom is frequent vomiting in babies. In addition, the gastric acid flowing back causes pain and heartburn. The babies cry a lot, sleep very poorly and suffer from cough. The food is vomited, which causes the children more and more pain, which leads to refusal to eat and a lack of drinking. The affected babies do not gain enough weight and this sometimes leads to failure to thrive. Existing milk teeth can be damaged by gastric acid.

Simple measures such as thickening the food with suitable preparations and switching to more frequent, smaller meals can help. Infants should sleep well and should not be fed immediately before bed. If that alone is not enough, special drugs are administered that inhibit acid production. If all of this does not help, surgery is considered. The esophageal sphincter is strengthened.


In the case of an invagination, parts of the intestine shift into one another. Children under the age of two are particularly affected. There is a risk of an interrupted blood supply to the affected sections of the intestine. Other complications include an ileus (bowel obstruction) and perforation of the bowel. A quick course of action is necessary for this clinical picture. The little patients immediately belong in a clinic.

The accompanying symptoms are sudden onset of massive abdominal pain. The affected babies cry out and pull their legs because of the intestinal cramps. There is also recurring vomiting. The infants may show signs of dehydration.

Food allergy

The most common allergy in baby age is cow's milk allergy. This is an allergic reaction to cow's milk protein. The babies react immediately after eating or only a few days later with diarrhea, rash and / or vomiting. Breastfeeding children can also be affected. Although this is very rarely the case, it is still possible. The components of cow's milk that the mother has ingested can reach the child's body through breast milk. If this type of disease is diagnosed, the nursing mother should avoid dairy products. For infants who receive bottle-fed food, a switch to cow's milk-free food is desirable.

Food change too fast

Switching to a new bottle of food or complementary foods too quickly can lead to vomiting in babies. Since the little ones still have a very sensitive digestive system, a careful, slow switch to the new diet is important.

Lack of hygiene

Vomiting in babies can result from poor hygiene. The vials have to be boiled out after each use and milk residues must be disposed of. The suction cups should also be cleaned regularly.


Persistent vomiting in babies can lead to desiccation (dehydration) relatively quickly, since the fluid balance is still very unstable here. It is therefore essential to ensure that the baby is given enough fluid. If this does not succeed and the child threatens to dry out, a hospital stay is necessary. In any case, a doctor must be consulted if the infant loses fluid and it can no longer be supplied.

When to the doctor?

Babies vomit relatively often in the first weeks and months. It doesn't have to be morbid. The little one's stomach is still very sensitive and vomiting serves as protection. If a baby vomits several times and there are additional symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, insomnia, poor drinking, or the child shows signs of dehydration and cries a lot or is even apathetic, a doctor should definitely be consulted.

Compensate for fluid loss

When babies vomit, fluid loss comes first. This must be compensated for as soon as possible. Breastfeeding children continue to be breastfed. However, meals should initially be kept lower, but the infant should be laid on more frequently. Bottled children are given tea or water, at first only in sips. Special food may be necessary for a few days. A special electrolyte solution for babies is usually recommended.

If baby food is already being fed, then light food is the first thing to do: potatoes, carrot jam, rice soup, banana etc. The transition to normal food should be very slow. The child's stomach is still very sensitive. (sw)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters


  • Janet Balaskas et al .: The great TRIAS guide Pregnancy and childbirth: With a large special section: The first 6 months with your baby, MVS Medizinverlage Stuttgart, 2004
  • Berthold Koletzko, Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, Springer Verlag, 2007
  • Jayanta Banerjee; Roy Mm; Sheetal bhojani; Naina Emcy: "Speikinder: When babies spit after meals", in: Praxis, Volume 99, 2010, Hogrefe
  • Volker Mall; Anna Friedmann: Early help in paediatrics: recognizing needs - intervening - networking, Springer Verlag, 2016
  • Bernard Valman: "The first year of life. Crying babies", in: British Medical Journal, Volume 280, 1980, British Medical Journal

Video: What is the best way to care for a child with vomiting and diarrhea? (September 2022).


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