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How to Handle Nausea

Nausea or feeling sick to the stomach often happens before kids throw up (vomit). Young kids may not know that they feel nauseated, so they may say they have a stomachache or don’t feel good. Nausea is rarely serious and tends to go away after a child throws up or an illness has run its course.

How Can I Care for My Child With Nausea?

  • Serve a balanced diet, but don't force kids to eat.
  • Try these suggestions if regular food makes nausea worse:
    • Serve plain foods, like toast, crackers, rice, or mashed potatoes.
    • Avoid greasy, fried, or sugary foods.
    • Encourage kids to eat and drink small amounts slowly.
    • Have kids avoid activity right after meals.
  • Give plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration:
    • Offer things like water, juice that’s watered down, soup, ice pops, or gelatin.
    • Avoid drinks that are carbonated, like soda, or have caffeine, like some coffees and teas.

Give nausea medicine only if your doctor says it's OK.

Kids who feel nauseated often don’t have much energy and want to just rest. It’s a good idea to have a basin or bucket nearby in case they vomit.

When Should I Call the Doctor for Nausea?

Call your doctor if your child has nausea and:

  • vomits more than a few times
  • has belly pain or watery diarrhea
  • has a fever
  • has a stiff neck or neck pain
  • has headaches that are severe, frequent, or happen in the morning right after waking up
  • won’t eat or drink

Also call the doctor if the nausea lasts for more than a week or comes back again after getting better.

What Else Should I Know?

Learning what can cause nausea can help you be prepared if it happens. Things like infections, stress, anxiety, some medicines, and motion sickness can make kids nauseated. So can allergic reactions, pregnancy, dehydration, and being sensitive to certain foods.

Reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD
Date Reviewed: Jan 1, 2024

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