Stomach Upset: Effective Tips for Quick Recovery and Preventing Dehydration



Experiencing a stomach upset, especially in children, can be a cause for concern for parents. However, with the right knowledge and actions, you can effectively manage the situation and ensure a speedy recovery. In this article, we’ll discuss the steps to take when your child has a stomach bug, ways to prevent dehydration, and measures to stop the spread of the illness. Keep reading to learn more about handling stomach upsets and ensuring your child’s well-being.

When to Contact Your Healthcare Provider

Regardless of your child’s age, certain situations require immediate medical attention when dealing with a stomach upset. Contact your healthcare provider right away if:

  • You suspect dehydration, indicated by symptoms like dry mouth, dark yellow urine, or weakness.
  • Blood is present in your child’s stool.
  • Your child experiences stomach pain when not vomiting (pre-vomiting pain is normal).
  • They have a weak immune system.
  • A head injury occurred within the last 24 hours.
  • They are vomiting a prescription medicine.
  • Their fever exceeds 104°F.
  • Your child appears extremely ill or acts abnormally.
  • Severe vomiting persists for more than 8 hours.

For babies younger than 1 year, call your healthcare provider if:

  • They are under 12 weeks old and have vomited 2 or more times.
  • Fever is present in babies under 12 weeks old.
  • Vomiting occurs 3 or more times, accompanied by diarrhea.

For children aged 1 year or older, get in touch with your provider if:

  • Vomiting continues for over 24 hours.
  • Fever persists for more than 3 days.

Preventing Dehydration and Providing Liquids

Dehydration is a significant risk when dealing with stomach bugs, particularly in babies and young children. Swift action is crucial, as younger children can become dehydrated more rapidly. Watch out for signs of dehydration, such as lack of tears, dizziness when standing, dark yellow urine, and dry mouth.

To prevent dehydration, you can start your child on a clear liquid diet once vomiting begins. The approach to feeding will differ for formula-fed and breastfed babies:

For formula-fed babies under 1 year:

  • Switch your baby to an oral rehydration solution like Pedialyte until they haven’t vomited for 8 hours. If unavailable, offer formula until you can obtain the rehydration solution.
  • Administer 1-2 teaspoons of the solution every five minutes using a syringe or spoon.
  • Double the amount after four hours without vomiting.
  • Return to your normal formula feeding schedule and amounts after eight hours without vomiting.

For breastfed babies under 1 year:

Breastfeed your baby for only five minutes every 30 minutes. If four hours pass without more vomiting, you can resume regular breastfeeding.

If vomiting continues, give your infant 1-2 teaspoons of expressed or pumped breast milk every five minutes. After four hours without vomiting, gradually increase breastfeeding time.

Note: Breastfed babies rarely need an oral rehydration solution, but it can be used if vomiting worsens.

For children over 1 year of age:

  • Offer an electrolyte solution like Pedialyte or oral rehydration solution, ice chips, water, popsicles, or gelatin.
  • Start with 2-3 teaspoons of clear fluid every five minutes. If asleep, don’t wake them to force liquids. Vomiting everything initially is normal, but the stomach will eventually settle.
  • Increase the amount after four hours without vomiting.
  • Return to regular amounts of fluid after eight hours without vomiting.
  • Wait for eight hours without any vomiting before gradually reintroducing solid foods, starting with starchy options like crackers, bread, and rice. Avoid greasy and sugary foods during this phase.

Preventing the Spread of the Stomach Bug

Stomach bugs are highly contagious and can spread quickly within a family. To prevent further infections, take the following measures:

  • Provide a bucket or bowl for your child to vomit in and use towels and bed sheets around them for easy cleanup.
  • Wash all dirty laundry in hot water and dry on high heat to kill lingering virus particles.
  • Clean surfaces, bathrooms, and high-touch areas frequently with soap, water, or diluted bleach solution.

Ensure everyone in the household practices regular handwashing, especially before preparing or eating food and after helping the sick child. Hand sanitizers may not be effective against some stomach bugs like Norovirus, so use soap and water instead.

Keep your child home from school or daycare until they have been symptom-free for 24 hours to prevent spreading the illness to others.


Experiencing a stomach upset in your child can be worrisome, but by following these guidelines, you can effectively manage the condition and ensure your child’s quick recovery. Promptly contact your healthcare provider in critical situations and take preventive measures to avoid dehydration and the spread of the stomach bug. By staying vigilant and providing the necessary care, you can help your child feel better and return to their usual self in no time.