Antiemetic Drugs in Children

Drugs used for nausea and vomiting are called antiemetic drugs. Most of these drugs work by protecting the stomach lining. According to Family Doctor, many of these drugs can be purchased over the counter, and though mostly safe for children, you should always consult your doctor before giving your child any medication. In some cases, it will be necessary for your doctor to prescribe a stronger medication in order to relieve your child's symptoms.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Bismuth subsalicylate

Bismuth subsalicylate, known commercially as Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate, is commonly given for nausea and vomitting. Both medications come in easy-to-take, chewable tablets, and Pepto Bismol is available in kid-friendly flavors such as bubblegum and watermelon. These drugs are often given for nausea, vomiting or diarrhea caused by flu, a virus or food poisoning. However, in 2004, the Federal Drug Administration required that children's dosing be removed from the labels of any products containing bismuth subsalicylate, and the new dosing directions require checking with a doctor before giving this product to children under 12.


Diphenhydramine, sold commercially as Benadryl, is an antihistamine used to treat nausea and vomiting. According to Family Doctor, antihistamines work in the part of the brain that controls nausea and vomiting, and can therefore be used to treat motion sickness. Other antihistamines used to treat symptoms caused by motion sickness include meclizine, marketed under the name Bonine, and dimenhydrinate, sold as Dramamine. These drugs, which are available both over the counter and by prescription, work best when taken 30 to 60 minutes before getting in a car or plane. These products may make your child sleepy and should be used with caution.


Some syrups, including coca-cola and ginger, can serve as antiemetics and provide non-pharmaceutical choices for relief from nausea symptoms.

Prescription medications

If a child's symptoms are severe or are not relieved by over-the-counter medications, your doctor may decide to write a prescription. Antiemetic drugs that require a prescription include Compazine, Phenergan, Zofran, Antivert and Reglan. Your child's doctor will need to determine the cause of the symptoms before deciding which medication to prescribe. In addition to the liquid formulation, many of these drugs also come in suppository form, which can be given if your child is not keeping down anything given orally.