Norovirus and sickness in toddlers

It spreads quickly, the symptoms are unpleasant and it's incredibly common. Here's how to treat the winter vomiting bug

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If your toddler starts vomiting, and they have diarrhoea as well, the chances are they’re suffering from the dreaded norovirus.

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Norovirus is highly contagious and the most common cause of gastroenteritis/stomach flu in the UK. It’s often called the winter vomiting bug, but you can get it at any time.

Your toddler could have picked it up by eating food infected with the virus, sharing a cup or utensils with someone who has the virus, or even by coming into contact with infected poo and putting it into their mouth (gross, but it does happen!)

In addition to vomiting and diarrhoea, your toddler may experience a fever, headache, stomach cramps and aching limbs.

The good news is that it should soon pass – symptoms usually last between 12 and 60 hours, with most people feeling better within 48 hours. Symptoms are usually mild and go away with a few days without treatment.

But in the meantime it’s important to give your toddler lots of drinks – water or fruit juice is best – so they don’t become dehydrated. (You can also buy Oral Rehydration Solutions from your chemist).

Try giving them small bites of food, for example whole-grain toast and cereal, yoghurt, fruit and vegetables (if they’ll eat them.)

Wipe down all surfaces, including door handles, with a disinfectant spray, and immediately remove and wash any soiled clothing.

Don’t let your children return to nursery or playgroup for 48 hours after their last bout of diarrhoea or vomiting – this is to prevent the infection spreading to other children.

When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if your toddler has a fever of 103F or higher or is showing any of the classic signs of dehydration: decreased urination (less than every six hours), excessive sleepiness or fussiness, sunken eyes, extreme thirst, dry lips, crying without tears, or cool and discoloured hands and feet.

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And remember, if you’re in any doubt about your toddler’s health, call your GP or health visitor for advice, or if they are showing symptoms of dehydration, take them to A&E.

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