Firstly: It’s normal for babies to vomit a little during the first few weeks as their bodies are developing and adjusting to feeding. You’ll be able to tell the difference between vomiting and a spit-up by the quantity of liquid that is expelled.
“It’s caused by overfeeding, ‘wind’ in the stomach or an underdeveloped gastroesophageal junction,” explains Dr Low Kah Tzay, a paediatrician at Anson International Paediatric & Child Development Clinic. No need to worry as this will settle within a few months.
However, if your sweetie is vomiting after every feed, she may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (Gerd), a condition where the food backs up into the oesophagus or out of the mouth. Most babies improve after 9 months, Dr Low notes.
Baby could have a gastric flu
If your baby’s regurgitating more than half her milk intake, has poor weight gain, or if her vomit is yellow or green, she might have a vomiting bug known as gastroenteritis. Different from Gerd (which happens in the esophagus), this viral infection of the gut causes irritation or inflammation.
Unlike Gerd, which only causes vomiting, babies with gastroenteritis will both vomit and have diarrhoea, which may give rise to severe dehydration. Other symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, lethargy and aching limbs.
“Her vomiting will increase in quantity and frequency, even though she may not have been fed,” Dr Low says.
Taking care of a baby with gastric flu
Since gastroenteritis can dehydrate your sweetie, make sure you feed her frequently. If your child is below 6 months, consult your GP immediately as she is at risk of dehydration. Signs to look out for:
- dry mouth/tongue
- sunken eyes
- if she is only passing a little urine.
As bubba’s organs require fluids to function normally, severe dehydration may be fatal. Warning signs include drowsiness, pale or mottled skin, cold hands and feet, and rapid breathing.
If she shows no symptoms, wait 15 minutes after she vomits before you offer any liquids, or she may regurgitate that, too. You could also offer her rehydration drinks that contain water, sugar and salts. However, these are not recommended for infants, so speak to your GP first before offering her such supplements.
Preventing gastric flu and such bugs
“Hygiene is the most important factor in preventing this,” stresses Dr Low. So, make sure to clean your baby’s hands, toys and play environment frequently. Also, isolate anyone in the household who has symptoms of vomiting or diarrhoea.
“Discuss vaccines for rotavirus, a common vomiting bug, with your doctor if your child is below 6 months old,” Dr Low advises.