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Most babies vomit small amounts from time to time and bring up some milk when they burp. This is known as possetting and is usually nothing to worry about. You can tell when your baby is vomiting rather than posseting because there will be a lot more coming out.
Vomiting is also very common (up to half of all babies) and in most cases will improve with time. Although it might look like they are vomiting a lot, most babies continue to grow normally and do not look particularly distressed by it.
As long as your baby seems otherwise healthy and continues to gain weight, there's usually no need to worry or seek further help. There are some simple things you can do to help – click here for more information.
However, vomiting can occasionally be a sign of an underlying problem such as severe reflux, milk allergy, pyloric stenosis, a stomach bug or infection (see below). Below are some signs to look out for if you are worried.
Your child may require emergency treatment.
You should call 999 or take them to your nearest Children’s A&E where they can be assessed.
Your child does not need to be rushed to A&E but you should seek medical advice today.
If your child develops any symptoms in the Red Box above, click and follow advice for that symptom.
And your baby:
You child does not seem to have any symptoms of serious illness or injury.
You can get general advice on the NHS website or from your local Pharmacy.
If your child develops any of the symptoms in the Red or Amber boxes above, click on that symptoms and follow the advice.
Click here to watch a video on reflux by Best Beginnings.
Cow's milk proteins are found in many types of formula milk. They'll also make their way into your breastmilk if you eat or drink milk or other dairy products, such as cheese and yoghurt.
If your baby has a cow's milk allergy, they may vomit after feeding. It can be difficult to tell the difference between this and reflux. But if your baby has problems with cow's milk, they may also have:
If you're worried that your baby has problems with cow's milk, there are steps you can take. If you breastfeed your baby, you could try cutting cow's milk from your diet for 2 weeks. If your baby is formula-fed, trying a hypoallergenic formula may help.
Talk to your GP or Health Visitor before trying these, though. They will check your baby’s symptoms first, so they can be sure of what’s causing them
Click here to watch a video on milk allergy by Best Beginnings.
This is a rare condition that can cause your baby to vomit forcefully within half an hour of feeding.
Pyloric stenosis is most likely to begin when your baby is about six weeks old, but could show up at any time before they reach four months of age. It can sometimes run in families, and boys are about four times more likely to get it than girls.
It happens because the muscle controlling the valve leading from the stomach into the intestines has thickened, stopping enough food and milk to get through, so it stays in the stomach and then comes back up. The problem is easily corrected with minor surgery.
If your baby's vomiting begins suddenly, or if they also have diarrhoea, they may have a tummy bug (gastroenteritis). Gastroenteritis is usually caused by a viral infection and needs no specific treatment.
Do not stop giving your baby milk. If you are breastfeeding, continue doing so. If your child is on formula, do not dilute it.
Babies under 6 months of age are at more risk of becoming dehydrated than older children, which is why it is important to make ensure that they are drinking enough. Give your baby oral rehydration fluids in between feeds or after each watery stool. Your pharmacist will be able to advise you about which solution is best for your baby. Little and often tends to work best – in hospital, babies are given 1 or 2 tablespoons (5-10 mls) of fluid to drink every 5-10 minutes. You can try using a syringe to give fluids to your child.
Your baby may be vomiting because they have an infection. This is usually associated with a temperature above 38°C / 100.4°F. Although the most likely cause is a viral infection, other causes include urinary tract infections or very occasionally a more serious illness such as meningitis or sepsis. Signs of a serious infection include:
Your child needs urgent help if any of these features are present - go to the nearest hospital emergency (A&E) department or phone 999.
If you are breastfeeding, seek advice from a breastfeeding specialist, either a specially trained health visitor or a breastfeeding counsellor. It is possible that your baby is not latching on properly.
If you are bottle feeding, ensure your baby is in the right position (sitting almost upright) and that you use the recommended amount of powder (it is quite easy to use too much if you have changed product, or using a different scoop than the one provided in the tin).
It is also quite easy to give your baby too much milk when you are bottle feeding.Their stomach is only small and most babies need little and often: 6-7 feeds per day is the norm, including at night. Your health visitor can help review how much milk you baby should need and the timing of the feeds.
However, if after 2 weeks you are still concerned, seek advice from your health visitor or GP.
You can treat your child's very minor illnesses and injuries at home.
Some illnesses can be treated in your own home with support and advice from the services listed when required, using the recommended medicines and getting plenty of rest.
Children can recover from illness quickly but also can become more poorly quickly; it is important to seek further advice if a child's condition gets worse.
For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?
Pharmacists are experts in many aspects of healthcare and can offer advice on a wide range of long-term conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets. You don’t need an appointment and many have private consultation areas, so they are a good first port of call. Your pharmacist will say if you need further medical attention.
Health visitors are nurses or midwives who are passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing illness through the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme. They work with you through your pregnancy up until your child is ready to start school.
Health Visitors can also make referrals for you to other health professionals for example hearing or vision concerns or to the Community Paediatricians or to the child and adolescent mental health services.
Contact them by phoning your Health Visitor Team or local Children’s Centre.
Health visitors also provide advice, support and guidance in caring for your child, including:
For more information watch the video: What does a health visitor do?
School nurses care for children and young people, aged 5-19, and their families, to ensure their health needs are supported within their school and community. They work closely with education staff and other agencies to support parents, carers and the children and young people, with physical and/or emotional health needs.
Contacting the School Nurse
Primary and secondary schools have an allocated school nurse – telephone your child’s school to ask for the contact details of your named school nurse.
All home educated children will have a named School Nurse.
Before your child starts school your health visitor will meet with the school nursing team to transfer their care to the school nursing service. The school nursing team consists of a school nursing lead, specialist public health practitioners and school health staff nurses.
They all have a role in preventing disease and promoting health and wellbeing, by:-
Each member of the team has links with many other professionals who also work with children including community paediatricians, child and adolescent mental health teams, health visitors and speech and language therapists. The school health nursing service also forms part of the multi-agency services for children, young people and families where there are child protection or safeguarding issues.
The clinical team in GP surgeries include doctors, advanced nurse practitioners and nurses who are trained to assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical procedures. Your GP surgery team will arrange a referral to a hospital specialist should you need it.
You have a choice of service:
If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call 111. An adviser will ask you questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your area.
Use NHS 111 if you are unsure what to do next, have any questions about a condition or treatment or require information about local health services.
A&E departments provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties, or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.
Developed in Partnership with the Healthier Together Programme
Alder Hey Children's Charity