What to do about tummy troubles

Even though tummy troubles…vomiting and diarrhea, are a rite of passage for little ones, they are just yucky!  When your kiddo doesn’t feel like eating anything and what they do eat comes back out is no fun for little ones and super stressful for mamas!  By watching your little one closely, you may be able to find some clues as to what is causing their tummy troubles.  

If you want to be a super star sick kiddo detective, check out the Sick Kiddo Boot Camp to learn about clues to fevers, coughs, congestion, and ear pain!

Vomiting vs Spitting Up

Let’s first talk about the difference between “vomiting” and “spitting up” especially in newborn babies. Vomiting is when stomach contents are forcefully expelled – we all know what that feels like! Spitting up, on the other hand, is an easy flow of stomach contents from the mouth, usually with a burp. Spitting up can be very normal in babies under 1 year, even if it seems like a lot of milk coming out. Sometimes we say babies are “happy spitters” if they don’t seem bothered by spit up.  Another cause of “spitting up” can be gastric reflux which makes your little one feel uncomfortable after each feeding.

Gastric reflux

To ease the discomfort of gastric reflux (which is kind of like heartburn in adults)

  • offer smaller, more frequent feedings
  • make sure you burp your baby well after each feeding
  • keep your baby in a quiet, upright position for about 30 minutes after feedings.

If those steps don’t seem to be helping, it’s probably time to give your pediatrician a call to talk about other options.

Stomach infections

If you baby or older kiddo starts vomiting out of the blue, there is a good chance it’s from some type of stomach infection. Stomach infections are usually caused by viruses but can be from bacteria or even parasites.

The thing with viral infections is that they just have to run their course. Stomach infections can also cause diarrhea or even fevers.  And they are usually contagious – so another kiddo in the neighborhood or at school probably has it too! Make sure you wash your hands with soap and water, not just hand sanitizer.


When a lot of fluids are going out of the body, through either vomiting or diarrhea, dehydration can be a big concern. For kiddos who are old enough to eat solid foods, it’s okay if they aren’t into eating very much, but you do want to try to encourage liquids. Really, whatever sounds good is what you should start with. You can even think outside of the box when it comes to offering fluids – popsicles, jello, even water dense foods like watermelon if that’s what they are feeling like! Oh, and don’t forget about good old fashion chicken noodle soup! If you can’t get your little one to drink at all and you notice fewer wet diapers, lack of tears, or dry mouth, it’s time for a call to the pediatrician.


Diarrhea can be a symptoms of food allergy or food intolerance/sensitivity. If you only notice diarrhea off and on with your little one, try to take note of what he or she had to eat right before the episode of diarrhea to see if there is any pattern. Some common food allergies are cows milk, eggs, wheat, seafood, nuts, or soy. (AAP – Food Allergy Reactions)

If diarrhea is causing your littlest one to have a diaper rash, try to keep that booty clean and dry – if possible, uncovered so it can air out (I know that is easier said than done!). Boudreaux Butt Paste is my favorite cream for diaper rashes and it is what we use in the hospital. Make sure you put it on nice and thick like frosting!

It’s pretty normal to expect some vomiting and diarrhea in your kiddo’s life, especially in those first few years. A lot of the time, you just need to ride it out and it will pass. Other times, you should give your child’s pediatrician a call because it may be something more serious.

Reasons to call the pediatrician

(AAP – Infant Vomiting)

  • Decreased wet diapers, lack of tears, or dry mouth
  • Decreased fluid intake
  • Vomiting for over 24hrs.
  • Red (blood) or green (bile) vomit
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Forceful, repeated vomiting

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