What should I do if my baby vomits while I’m teaching her to self-soothe?
It can be very scary and upsetting when your little one throws up at any time. It can be especially upsetting at bedtime when everyone is trying to settle down. If your little one gets so upset when you’re trying to teach her to self-soothe that she vomits, then there are a few things you can do, including making some changes at bedtime.
Before you make any major changes at bedtime, though, be sure to talk to your health care provider if you are concerned your little one is sick with something like a virus or that she has gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD, or reflux). If your little one is actually sick, something only your health care provider can really tell you, then be sure to treat her symptoms to help her to feel better.
Once you are confident that your little one is not throwing up at bedtime because she is sick, then be careful about giving it too much attention as some little ones quickly learn to vomit whenever they are upset (not fun for anyone in the family!). If she gags or vomits during the bedtime routine, provide as little attention to her as possible while quickly cleaning her up. You can also place an extra layer of sheets on mattress so you can quickly take off the top layer at bedtime if necessary.
In the meantime, during the day, you can work with your baby on making the crib a fun place so she doesn’t get so upset at bedtime! Several times a day, spend 5 minutes or so playing in and around the crib. You can do things like hide a favorite toy in the crib or play peek-a-boo through the bars.
If working through gagging or vomiting at bedtime during sleep training does not seem to be working for you and your family, talking to a pediatric sleep specialist in your area may help. Ask your health care provider for a list of local names and a referral if necessary.
About Dr. Erin Leichman