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21 month old makes herself vomit at bedtime

Help!  My 21-month old has never liked going to bed and usually screams the place down for a good 20 minutes before finally settling and then sleeping through the night.  This in itself is frustrating, especially when we have a bedtime routine and she knows when it is bedtime but we have learned to live with it and don't give in.  However, in the last week she has decided to start making herself sick the moment we enter the bedroom as she knows that it requires a clothes change, more teeth brushing and a drink of water. 

 There is nothing wrong with her in regard to her health but it has gone on for so long now that I am concerned about her nutrition as she vomits her whole dinner. 

 When she does it we ignore it and don't speak to her, do what we need to do and then put her straight back to bed, where she continues to scream 'sick' for a further good 15 minutes but  only actually vomits if we enter the room  (as if she is trying to prove a point) so we just leave her until she tires herself out.

 This is very stressful for everyone concerned and I really don't know what to do for the best.  I thought the bedtime tantrums would calm down and stop when she realised that it makes no difference on the outcome of going to bed but either she is really stubborn or we are doing something very wrong.

 Any advice is gratefully sppreciated.


  • hi there,

     first of all, big hugs weve had the horrible blood curdling scream faze and it was soo upsetting, second well done on sticking to routine it sounds as though your handling this very well.

    Cant offer much good advice but what stopped jack was moving into a bed and a fisherprice gloworm it sings and lights up and gave him something calming to play with while he dosed off theres also a fifi and iggle piggle mickey and minnie and a seahorse that are similar.

    Best of luck xxx

  • Hi,Audlin.
    Lots of toddlers protest at bedtime.
    What works for us is exactly the same routine every night,starting tea time at 5,bath time 6,then one or two stories and bed.I expect you do something similar.All you can do is be consistant with the little one's routine,keep it as calm as possible.
    The vomiting is obviously an attention seeking tactic,and you obviosly have to go in and clean it all up.If you didn't enter the room would the vomiting happen,or would she just scream?
    My eldest screamed all night and every daytime nap for a fortnight.It was really stressful as we were living at my parents house at the time and my poor Dad had to get up for work at 4 in the morning.There was nothing wrong,he just didn't want to be in his cot.
    Doesn't sound like you're doing anything wrong.If the vomiting only happens if you go back in the room I wouldn't go back in.You know there's not actually anything wrong.
    Toddlers can be very stubborn,at least mine are
  • hi i wouldn't say you were doing anything wrong and sticking to the bedtime routine is great, how about trying an addition to the bedtime routine in the form of a sticker chart? so encourage her to get dressed without screaming= a sticker, brushing her teeth without fuss=a sticker going to bed like a big girl=a sticker but if the screaming starts and being sick happens then explain that a sticker will be taken away each time, maybe talk about if she fills her sticker chart throughout the week then she'll get a treat at the end of the week, also maybe do the countdown thing so say in 5 mins we are goin upstairs to get ready for bed, then in 4, 3 ,2 etc so she realises that the bedtime routine is goin to begin in a while???

    hope that helps, keep smiling it'll all be good in the end x 

  • Thanks to everyone for your support and advice.  The last two nights in order to avoid being vomited on I have just taken her straight to bed after the bedtime routine and without saying a word just left the room as fast as I can, as I know if I hang around then the wretching will start.  By doing this she just screams for around 15 minutes and then falls asleep.  No wretching or shouing 'sick'. 

    This may be because she is also boycotting daytime naps and is so exhausted by the end of the day she doesn't have the energy for anythign else but fingers crossed, even though I don't like putting her to bed like that, it is working for now.

    She is a good girl during the day, and in the morning she is all sweetness and light ,so she doesn't seem very bothered by it all.

    I hope you are all having a good week.


  • My daughter is making herself sick for the past three nights. I oculd not believe my eyes when we were about to enter her  room and she opened her mouth ready to gag, and she did.  At first I reacted the way she wanted me to, and then I was calm about it, read one more story and left the room.  Leterally by two minutes she stopped screaming.  I also made sure she did not eat at lest three hours before bed.  I am going to call my pediatritian though becuase reflux runs in my fmaily.  Thanks for all of your advice, it did help alot!


  • I hope you have better luck then we are having. My 22 month old has done this for going on a year now. We have tried EVERYTHING!!! She does it when she wants out of the carseat, the crib, doesn't want to lay down for a nap, doesn't want to eat or is just really mad at you. We have ignored it, made her help us clean it up, let her sit in it for a while and get uncomfortable, tried the reward system (earn/loose stars), stayed with her, ran out immediatly, scolded her for it, calmed her down and started over, literally EVERYTHING we can think of, our family can think of and our pediatrition can think of. Don't know what else to do. I think the only thing new I see here is moving her to a bed and out of the crib which we were planning on doing on her 2nd birthday. We might jump that up a couple months and see if it works. In fact I cleaned up puke an hour ago, this is the fifth night in a row that I have changed and washed sheets beacuse of her tantrums. So hang in there and hope for the best, that is all I am doing. I hope your case works out better then mine. image
  • hi i have a 19month old little girl and everytime she gets very upset she throws up everywhere if i tell her off , its starting to worry me now , could somoene please tell me what that is wrong with her ?

  • My little boy (2 years and 4 months) has been able to make himself sick when really upset for the last year or so. Recently this has started happening at bedtime but what's new is that he seems to able to bring it on without even being outwardly upset. As a result his bedtime is getting later and later and he is waking in the night hungry. I'm finding it really hard now as frankly I have little energy left by the end of day as it is (I'm pregnant) and yet I don't want to do anything too reactionary in case it just fuels the fire. If anyone has had any success with stopping your child doing this I'd be really grateful. I try to keep the clean up to a minimum of fuss and put him straight back to bed but often I need to scrub the carpet which involves lights on, etc. Argh, driving me mad!

  • Hi Genevieve I'm a health visitor with 29years experience and now I work privately as a baby whisperer.

    This is a difficult problem and I truly feel for you.

    From what you have described your little boy has an emotional and behavioural reaction when he gets upset. An association has been made with emotion and vomit. The association usually starts as a coincidence, baby got upset, coughed and vomited, Any vomiting is dramatic and unpleasent and if occurs when a baby is emotionally upset the baby will make an association with emotion and vomiting. How much attention and fuss was made at the time will influence the strength of the association between emotion and vomit. There are other factors that influence the association too, such as the toddlers personality and sensitive nature.

    The more fuss and attention is made of his vomiting this will reinforce the association. If he vomits don't comment, or give any verbal or physical attention to it. The key is to identify the triggers.

    Sleep and settling routines are my speciality. My recommendation is to make his bedroom a peaceful and relaxing place to be. Dont delay his bedtime, keep to 7-8pm times. Bath then straight into his room, dont let him get excited or run about. Make bedtime a relaxing time. If he likes stories or favourite toy say in a friendly calm voice  "get into bed and you can have story" etc. Dont be tempted to lie down or let him fall to sleep on you. Stay in the room until he is calm and drifted to sleep.

    These are only suggestions, if you would like to know more please read my blog

  • You have mentioned that she vomits when you enters the room. This is completely surprising how can she vomit at the time you enter everyday. I this this might be a coincidence. So you should consult with the doctor.


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