Having a sick child can be a frightening experience for parents, especially when they’re displaying symptoms or behaviors that are unfamiliar to us, like throwing up mucus. You can rest assured that this is a common occurrence for sick children.
Why is my toddler throwing up mucus? Children commonly throw up mucus due to infections, allergies, physical upset, and excessive production of phlegm. In each situation, you can mitigate the physical effects of excessive mucus production with supportive care. You should speak with a pediatrician to determine the underlying cause.
Keep reading to learn more about why your toddler might be throwing up mucus, how you can help, and when to call the healthcare provider.
Toddler Throwing Up Mucus: 5 Common Causes & What To Do
While seeing mucus in a child’s vomit can be alarming to parents, it’s not uncommon. There are many reasons why a toddler may throw up mucus, and most of them aren’t medically severe.
We’ve compiled a list of the most common causes and what you can do for your child in each situation. Keep in mind that consulting your child’s pediatrician is the best way to ensure their health and safety.
1. Respiratory Infection
Congestion is one of the most common symptoms of a respiratory infection. Many toddlers don’t understand how to excrete excess mucus and instead swallow it. This can upset their stomachs and make the child nauseous.
How To Help Your Child
While you can’t stop the drainage, there are things you can do to lessen the congestion.
To remove excess mucus for your child, use a suction bulb or nasal aspirator. In addition, you should also keep your child hydrated to help thin the mucus.
2. Seasonal Allergies
Allergens like dust and pollen cause the body to produce histamines that dilate the nasal cells, ramping up the production of mucus.
This means that your child is likely to have a post-nasal drip where the mucus drains from the nasal passage into the throat. Both the excessive amounts of phlegm and the feeling of the drip can cause nausea and vomiting.
How To Help Your Child
Allergy medications meant for children grant the appropriate dosage of histamine-blocking components. These antihistamines offer relief from symptoms like congestion, cough, and runny nose.
In addition, make sure your child is drinking plenty of water to help thin the mucus and reduce nausea associated with drainage.
3. Severe Coughing Fit
When the body produces excess mucus, it can fill the lungs. Coughing is how the body excretes that mucus. When a coughing attack occurs, it can cause vomiting. You’re likely to see mucus from the lungs, throat, and stomach mixed in.
How To Help Your Child
There’s not much that can be done when a coughing fit is happening. After the fact, you should help your child take deep breaths to regulate their body.
In addition, you can have them drink water to help lubricate the throat and ease any itching or dryness that could cause another attack.
4. Prolonged Crying
When a child cries for an extended period of time, it can get the body worked up and induce vomiting.
Since young children don’t typically know how to blow their nose or cough up the mucus, it drains down their throat into their stomachs. So, when a child throws up from crying, there’s a good chance that mucus will be present in the vomit.
How To Help Your Child
First, help your child calm down and soothe themselves. Employ breathing techniques, talk through their feelings, and address the issue at hand. Then work to remove excess mucus by using suction or having the child expel it through the nose.
5. Excessive Stomach Mucus
Mucus forms the protective lining in the stomach that prevents ulcerations from stomach acids. Just because something is good doesn’t mean it can live in an overabundance. When excess mucus exists in the stomach, it causes upset.
How To Help Your Child
The best way to control natural mucus production is through a clean diet, exercise, and proper hydration. Start by avoiding foods that contribute to overproduction like dairy, sugar, and greasy foods including fatty meats.
Then help your child keep a consistent physical activity routine to regulate body function. Finally, have them hydrate consistently and prioritize water intake.
When To Be Concerned About Mucus in Your Child’s Vomit
Mucus in the vomit is not necessarily a cause for concern in and of itself.
However, when partnered with other symptoms such as blood in the vomit, dehydration, difficulty breathing or swallowing, or not keeping down liquids, mucus in the vomit can be indicative of a more serious issue.
Seeing a pediatrician is the best course of action in this case.
How To Relieve Congestion in Toddlers
There are many ways to help relieve your child’s congestion. We’ve listed a few of the most popular methods below.
Age Appropriate Congestion and Allergy Medications
Cold and allergy medications typically contain two components focused on relieving congestion and nasal irritation. These are called antihistamines and decongestants.
Decongestants reduce blood flow to the nasal cavity; this works as an anti-inflammatory. Antihistamines decrease mucus production.
So, administering cold and allergy medications made for children in accordance with product dosing recommendations can relieve your child’s symptoms medicinally.
Contrary to popular belief, humidifiers are better than dehumidifiers at easing congestion. By adding moisture to the air, humidifiers help thin out mucus and keep inflammation at bay.
These machines range in price and size (this one runs silently and is quite affordable — I use it myself!). Steam from a shower, simmer pot, or facial steamer achieve the same effect for a cheaper cost.
Hydration is vital to any illness, especially those involving congestion. Water improves many of the body’s functions including fluid balance and toxin removal. In addition, it loosens and thins the mucus, making it easier to remove.
Vapor Rub and Vapor Tablets
Vapor rubs and tablets work more as a placebo than anything. While it doesn’t actually relieve nasal congestion, its aroma can trick the brain into thinking it’s breathing easier. However, many vapor rubs are not safe for children under two.
On the other hand, vapor tablets are typically safe so long as they stay out of reach of your child. Tablets work by dissolving in a shower or simmer pot to release the same aroma as vapor rub. These are a great non-topical alternative.
There are several ways to clear the nasal cavity of excess mucus. Depending on your child’s age, you could use a suction bulb, manual nasal aspirator, or electric nasal aspirator to remove gunk from their nose.
Suction bulbs and manual aspirators are recommended for children under the age of one.
Home Remedies for Vomiting Child
Watching your child suffer from any illness is heartbreaking, but you’re not entirely powerless in that situation. Here are a few home remedies to help your vomiting child.
Ginger has long been used as a natural anti-nausea treatment among holistic families. It contains gingerols and shogaols that work as an anti-inflammatory. In turn, these chemicals reduce nausea and intestinal pains.
Ginger is more effective in reducing these symptoms when taken in small daily doses over time. These doses can range from 0.5-1.5 grams per day.
It should be noted that those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, suffer from diabetes, hemophilia, low body weight, or high blood pressure should not use ginger.
The smell of peppermint has been shown to reduce nausea in some cases. Add peppermint to your wax warmer or aromatherapy machine to spread the smell around your home.
Keep in mind that only the smell has been studied for efficacy. Ingesting peppermint teas, oils, and pills has not been as thoroughly examined.
Consuming clear fluids is the best place to start when it comes to an upset stomach. Hydration plays a vital role in reducing nausea and combating illness.
Water, electrolyte drinks, ginger ale, and even Sprite have been shown to help an aching tummy.
Eating foods that are gentle on the stomach and gastrointestinal tract can assist in reducing nausea and preventing vomiting. Feeling empty or eating foods that are heavy can worsen existing stomach issues.
The BRAT diet is a great way to ensure that you’re gentle on your tummy. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.
The BRAT diet is no longer recommended by most healthcare professionals because it does not provide adequate vitamins/minerals. However, it is still known as a bland diet to calm the stomach which is useful.Amanda Lundberg, BSN, RN
Toddlers throw up mucus for several reasons ranging from allergies to infections.
There are many ways in which you can help your child get through common causes of throwing up mucus such as keeping them hydrated, using a humidifier, and administering medicine.
Consulting your child’s pediatrician to help determine the cause of congestion is recommended.
Charley is a mother of three with a passion for raising good humans. With her children in tow, she studies English and has made a career creating content about motherhood. In her free time, she enjoys traveling within the states to kayak, camp, and hike.