Tips for When Children are Throwing Up

When your child is throwing up, tips and tricks.

The stomach flu is dreaded and most of the time you have no warning before it hits. However the hardest isn’t when you are sick but when you have a kid that is sick. So what do you do when a child has the stomach flu? How do you handle a kid that’s throwing up?

Unfortunately I’ve had my fair share of throw up as a mom of three. When my oldest two were toddlers they both had the roto virus at the same exact time. That night we went through every single sheet, blanket and towel in the entire house. It was horrible but it taught me a lot about how to manage a kid  who is extremely sick at their stomach.

1. Keep the child still and down. If a child is moving their stomachs will get more upset and shaken up. Chances are that they will vomit more, which might lead to dehydration. It doesn’t matter if you have to watch Toy Story 2 on repeat  just do it and keep them as quiet and still as possible.

2. The BRAT diet. When a child is throwing up try to keep them from eating but sometimes they will just want to eat something. If they are asking nonstop for food than try the BRAT diet, this is also great if they are having diarrhea. Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast are easy on the stomach foods that they will have the best chance of keeping down.

3. The happy bowl. If you come to my house and look in my Tupperware drawer, there is a big plastic bowl with a smiley face drawn on the bottom in permanent marker. Guess what it’s for? Yes throwing up in a bowl is not fun at all but for some reason my kids like this bowl and the fact that is has a smiley face. They are happy to lug it around with them on a day that their stomach is upset. Get something lightweight and easy to clean and make sure they keep it with them, it’ll save your furniture and floors.

4. Ginger Ale – When you child is throwing up let them sip flat ginger ale. Flat Sprite will also help but ginger is a great tool for upset stomachs and will do the most good. Some parents prefer pedialyte because they don’t want the children having the sugar in sodas but it’s easier to get sick children to drink soda, in my opinion. My kids only get soda when they are sick or when their grandmother sneaks it to them (You’re busted Mimi) so giving it to them when they are sick comes as a treat to help make their rough day better.

5. Replace blankets with towels. Most children are small enough that they can easily use large beach towels as blankets. If you know you’re going to have to clean up a lot of sheets and blankets, use towels. They are smaller and are super absorbant so you will actually wash less. Lay them on top of the blankets or where your kids are laying and if they throw up on them they are easy to roll up, throw in the wash and replace with another one quickly without disturbing the child too much.

6. Layer the sheets on the bed. This is also a great trip for potty training! Put on a water proof mattress cover on the mattress and then a fitted sheet. On top of the fitted sheet place another waterproof mattress cover and then another fitted sheet. If you don’t have enough mattress covers, use towels! When they throw up just peel off the top layer and you have another sheet ready to go underneath. You can get the child back settled and rested as soon as possible.

7. Cover the floor with towels. When you put them to bed, lay one or two towels out on the side of the bed and for older kids, place a path of towels to the bathroom. You might use all the towels in your house but it’s easier to throw them in the wash than scrub throw up off the carpet at 2am. If you don’t have enough towels, use a large sheet. Some might go through it but it will still be easier than if you had nothing covering the carpet. Unused towels can be used that day for baths.

8. When it does get on carpet and upholstery, know how to clean it without a ton of chemicals. Use the dust pan to get any chunks (sorry for the graphics but it’s true) and then soak up most of the liquid with a rag. Next use hot soapy water to scrub the area really well. If any smell remains, spray the area with a mix of vinegar and water and then sprinkle baking soda on the top. When it dries, vacuum up the baking soda and the smell should be gone. This is my top trick for getting rid of odors no matter if it’s from throw up, potty training or animal odors. I do this to our couch all the time.

9. Give them small amounts of liquids but do it frequently. When they are in the middle of throwing up do not give them large amounts of liquids! Start small and go up on amount as they keep it down. When the child is in the middle of throwing up and ask for a drink, just give them a few tablespoons of liquid in a cup. If they can keep that down for 10-15 minutes increase the amount by a little. If they can keep it down, increase it some more. They need to drink a lot to replace fluids but just tiny amounts frequently will help keep it down more so than a ton of liquid at all one time. Many times I barter with my kids to take small sips when they have the stomach bug. If they aren’t drinking at all, just tell them that you will turn on the next cartoon when they take a sip of whatever drink you are offering them.

10. Use your parent instinct. If your child is really sleepy and not moving at all then watch them for dehydration. If they won’t drink and are loosing more liquids than they are taking in then you might need to take them to Urgent Care. Just use your parenting instincts. You know your child the best. Don’t question your instincts. If your heart tells you to go to the ER or urgent care, go.  Your child’s life is worth more than that medical bill. Do what you feel you need to do and be ok with it.

Don’t forget to follow along for more parenting tips and tricks along with great crafts and DIY. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or subscribe via Email or RSS feed! 




Bobbie is a homeschooling mom of three girls in the Houston area. Although most of her days are spent scrubbing up paint or ungluing her fingers, occasionally she also takes the time to burn dinner.

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  1. Erin says

    One of my favorite tricks is to cover the furniture with water resistant fabric shower curtains. They are super lightweight and easy to store. They keep the underside dry just long enough to be really useful.

    • Staci says

      I like to use a juice pitcher for smaller kids to lug around. A plastic one with a handle there little faces fit at the top to control vomit and they have a handle to hold onto if there is a LOT of fluid/pressure. You have less risk of them loosing there grip and dropping the whole mess on the floor before getting to the toilet. We let them draw faces on them and call them there sick day best friend….they seem to like it? :)

  2. Carrie says

    My 2 year old was throwing up and could not aim in a bowl so I put a bib with a pocket on her. Every time she threw the mess went in the pocket of the bib not all down her shirt.

  3. Karen says

    In the hospital we give patients an ice-cube to suck instead of sips of drink. Because the ice-cube melts slowly the patient takes the fluids down slowly and it is less likely to come back up. The coolness is also nice and soothing for their mouth and throat.

    *Make sure they are sitting up while they suck on the ice to avoid any choking risk.

  4. Wendy says

    Before flu season comes upon us I ALWAYS make sure I have canned fruit in heavy syrup (peaches) on hand. It REALLY does help…even for adults. 😉 Give a tablespoon of the syrup and wait 10-15 minutes and If that stays down give a tablespoon every 10-15 minutes. Only had to do this for a couple of hours for my daughter and my hubby! 😉 Hope this helps someone else too! :)

  5. Kathy says

    A doctor gave me this tip years ago right before he retired. Being a mom of 4, I have used this many times…lol
    Before the kids can handle even small sips of fluids, I give my kids a tablespoon of canned peach syrup…the heavy, sugary syrup, not the peach in its own juice kind. This coats the stomach. I increase it as tolerated. After that they can “graduate” to gatorade or smart water or flat soda.

  6. Brandi from Bloomington says

    Do you still have the crib mattress from when they were a baby? Take it and slide it under their bed. When they are sick, slide it out and cover it with a crib sheet. The crib mattress is waterproof and is easy to clean. Voila! A “sick bed” that will last until they are about 8 years old.

  7. Catherine says

    If you suspect your child is dehydrated then don’t take them to urgent care, take them to the ER/emergency. Urgent care isn’t for emergency situations and a lot of times urgent cares are not equipped for situations like that. Just an FYI. Unless you absolutely know that they can help. Otherwise skip the time wasted going there and the bill you’d get from going to two places and a possible ambulance bill and just go straight to emergency.

  8. Amanda says

    My husband has an old army cot in the garage from his dads stint in the army. When the babies are sick, we pull it out so they can sleep in our room (which they always want to when sick) we set the cot up, cover it in 3-4 layers of towells, a pillow covered with a towel and put the kid with his or her bowl. They are sat up enough so I can reach them while Im laying down on my bed if needed. If they throw up on all the towels and it gets on the cot, it take 2 seconds to clean it up! just wipe and re-apply towel! (this also saves our bed, sheets, blankets, pillows from getting vomited on)

  9. Shannon says

    I use the cheap plastic table cloths you can get at the dollar store or nicer vinyl, flannel backed table cloths. I usually cover the entire living room floor with them and then make up a bed for the child on the floor. I also place them on the floor around their bed as well. This way I can just throw them away.

  10. Tracy says

    My kids always had a hard time keeping all the throw up in a bowl so my mom gave me the tip of using a cleaning bucket lined with a plastic grocery bag. I also put some paper towels on the bottom and give them a roll of paper towels to clean themselves up. It really makes the clean up so much easier. I has come in very handy with my 5 kids.

  11. Jen says

    Another tip that I used is shower curtain liners. I buy them at the dollar store, so I always have a stock on hand. I put the mattress cover on the bed and the fitted sheet then the shower curtain liner and towels on top. I makes for easy clean-up and you can wipe down the liner easily and put it in the washing machine with towels when you are done with it and still can use it in the shower.

  12. Debbie Woolsey says

    We use a large plastic drink cup that holds about 32 oz. We call it “The Throw Up Cup.” At the first tummy twinge, my kiddos know to ask for it. It holds a lot, and there is no splash back like there can be with a bowl.

  13. says

    When my girls were small I put flat ginger al in a shot glass and set a timer for 10or15 min.when the timer went off it was time for their drink. Kept them happy to wait for the timer to go off.

  14. Ann says

    One of the nurses at our pediatrician’s office recommended giving a few tablespoons of liquid at every commercial. My six year old was able to do on his own the last time he was sick which kept him hydrated and allowed me to still take care of my other three children.

  15. Claire says

    For cleaning nastiness out of carpet, my family swears by clear windex (you can get it with vinegar) It’s a great spot cleaner for carpets and it’s easy to use. You should still get the bacteria out with soap (vomit is nasty stuff) but the windex will kill the stain and the stench!

    • says

      I have used Windex on my carpets before when I ran out of everything else and was desperate and you are so right! It works wonders on carpet stains!

  16. Marin says

    I used to get throw up A LOT as a child and the one thing that really helped me for some reason was sleeping with a hand towel on top of my pillow. I don’t know what it was that I found so comforting (I still do in my adult years), maybe the fact was if I knew I wouldn’t make it to the bathroom, the towel was already under my head. Also, for little girls with long hair, keep their hair in a bun. Puke hair is the worst!

    • Laura Rog says

      My mum used to do the towel on the pillow thing, but also get an extra pillow so they’re propped upright & won’t choke on the puke. I have very long hair and I would say to plait, rather than bun, so they can still sleep on it.
      Also rather than soda/pop/fizzy drinks gone flat I plump for flat isotonic sports drinks- you need to replace electrolytes etc and they are a bit more palatable than dioralyte or rehydration sachets. I don’t know if you get lucozade in the US but I guess gatorade is similar?
      When they’ve stopped upchucking, but still delicate we always were fed chicken noodle soup- but the cheapo packet kind that’s just chicken broth and vermicelli. Puts something warm in the tummy but the noodles slide down and aren’t scratchy on sore mouths and throats.

  17. says

    We have a twin blow up mattress that we pull out in these situations. Kiddo is closer to the floor and the mattress cleans up with a simple wipe down with bleach water. And added bonus, the bucket is just the right height for her to reach when she gets sick.

  18. Jude says

    I can’t remember where I got this tip but I freeze Popsicles made of gastrolyte – rehydration liquids. I make mine watery so it’s not too strong. I guess you could do the same with flat ginger ale. The kids just suck them when they’re on the mend.

  19. Niki says

    i freeze the ginger ale in a Popsicle form so its flat, cold, and helps keep her hydrated. Also it makes it so she eats it very slow. And clear Gatorade works well too!!!

  20. says

    A friend recently share with me (she’s a brilliant mom of 4): When one of her kids is sick, she makes a bed for them in their master bath tub. :) 1. They stay close to mom & dad – and let’s face it, mom is less likely to get vomitted on. 2. Super easy clean up. You can make it super comfy with towels and blankets, but you can also rinse the kiddos easily and fix the “bed” right back up quickly. 3. The kids think sleeping in the big tub is super cool! Definitely gonna use this next time I have a sick kiddo!

  21. Michelle Seavey says

    Goodnites makes waterproof mats intended for bedwetters that are a Godsend for beds when you have a stomach bug running through the house. They cover about the whole width and about a third of the length of a twin bed. If a child misses the throw-up bucket, (gallon ice cream pail lined with small trash bag,) just peel up the pad, fold it up, throw it away and stick down another. NO middle of the night laundry. They’re kind of pricy at about $1.00 a piece, but the convenience is worth it. We keep a package in the closet just in case. We also have those buckets at the foot of every bed just in case. If someone is actively sick, everyone moves the bucket up to the pillow!

  22. B says

    A good tip for a child that can’t keep a bit of liquid down is put water in a spray bottle and spray a little bit ever few minutes. It will moisten the whole mouth and help quench thirst but not overwhelm the stomach all at once. Just do it often to keep hydrated but spread out to be easy on stomach. For one kid this is the only way to keep hydrated because any real sip of liquid will upset her stomach.

  23. Bekah says

    Great tips! 2 things that work for us: Clean up with spoons so that you can scrape up the mess and not just rub it in to carpeting. We also pay our kids $1.00 if they make it to the toilet or the throw up cup. Since we started doing that, we hardly every have to clean anything up! A dollar well spent!

  24. shelly says

    One thing I do is make a Gatorade slush in the blender (just G & ice) & give them small spoonfuls at a time until they can keep ice/liquid down.
    We also do the buckets in bed, lined w/ grocery bag & lots of paper towels. If one kid is sick, everyone sleeps w/ their bucket and everyone goes on a bland diet for a few days!
    A cold, wet rag over the eyes and on the back of the neck can be soothing too. Nausea is the worst!!

  25. Kathryn says

    Wow. I have just been reading all the shared tips what a a lovely bunch of mummies you are its so nice to see everyone supporting each other and no trolls!

    The tips are amazing, if nothing else for me, I am failry lucky my 2 yr old daughter has oly puked twice in her life, once in her cot at night and I found her covered in dried puke the next morning yuck! And the other was collecting her at nursery we both got covered twice bless her!
    So these tips will come in handy as I know I am due some throw up at some point in the next 10 years :)

  26. Jen says

    The BRAT diet has been debunked for not having enough protein, and no probiotic foods, and lacking in nutrition if white bread and white rice are used. Adding yogurt is one suggestion.

    The same for ginger ale, there is not enough actual ginger, if ANY real ginger in the leading brands of soda to have healing, medicinal properties and the high fructose corn syrup /sugar only feeds the nasty gut bacteria. You can make ginger tea with fresh ginger or buy concentrated ginger syrup at a health food store, if ginger is what you want. You can also make homeade “pedialyte” type drinks without the artificial colors and flavors, where the type and quantity of sugar can be chosen as you wish.

  27. Angela says

    When my kids were sick I always kept a cool, damp cloth on the forehead or back of neck. Also, have them lay on their right side because the stomach empties to the right into the small intestine. This allows gravity to help empty the stomach down instead of coming up. We do this at the hospital and it does work!

  28. Tami says

    Great common sense tips…love them! As a Grandma, I’ve used all of them and am surprised so many people don’t know about these. I really love the bed layering idea! We used towels but extra waterproof pads and sheets is a wonderful idea. We always used an ice cream pail because of the handle (easier to hold and empty) and each child had one in their bedroom under their bed year round just in case! Loved the smiley face…cute! As far as sodas go, my kids preferred sour over sweet so even though I did offer ginger ale and 7-up, they liked lemon sour (soda for drink mixes) and popsicles.

  29. Kayla says

    Wow I’m suprised nobody wrote to eat a couple spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream if they know they are going to be sick. I know diary isn’t good with an upset stomach but if you have just a spoonful or two it really helps coat the throat especially with dry heaves when it hurts and is uncomfortable. I know I always hated throwing up because of that.

  30. says

    Love all the helpful advice! One trick here I haven’t used yet to verify, but someone said for cleaning up the mess and getting rid of the odor was coffee grounds. Apparently you sprinkle them on top and it dries the liquid aspect which can then be swept up without the odor. Worth a try. We do the bucket, the bed layering and towels over pillows as well as Italian ice. That way they have to scrape for a while and only take in small amounts as it melts. Don’t forget the most important of all, prayers. We lay hands on our children and pray that they will be healed quickly and completely. Greatest comfort of all. God bless!

  31. April says

    Good tips. One thing my husband did once that I thought was crazy at the time… My son puked on our living room carpet. He ran and grabbed the wet/dry shop vac and a pitcher of water. He would pour the water on the puke as he sucked it up into the wet dry vac. He continued doing this until it was all gone and it was just water being sucked up. No rubbing it into the carpet. No left over smell. and clean up was a matter of a minute or so.

  32. Kasie says

    I just went through my entire household having a bug. One year olds will not puke in a bucket (I have twins). After the first initial puke (the super soaker), we caught the vomiting with prefold cloth diapers. When my oldest was small and puking I covered his bed in prefolds too. When one or two would get puked on, I could remove just those and replace. Much less laundry (in volume) to wash. Towels are a lot of washing! But were around the bed just in case. Puke laundry is the absolute worst laundry ever!

  33. Kelly says

    What to do if you have to transport a child who is throwing up (or who gets sick in the car on the way somewhere)? Keep a box of quart or gallon zip-loc bags handy. They serve the same purpose as a throw-up bowl/cup/pot, and they can be sealed until you get to a garbage can.

    • says

      That’s a great idea! I need to get some to keep in the car since we have a child that occasionally gets car sick but very rarely so we never have supplies on hand.

  34. Janie says

    My best advice is to wear a button up shirt! My kids seemed to always throw up on me–nothing worse than pulling that shirt over my head

  35. Tiffiany says

    As a kid, my mom would wait about 30 minutes or so after I last vomited, then she’d give me some 7UP and some white saltine crackers. That’s probably why I feel sick to my stomach whenever I even smell 7UP. We also used the hospital wash basins that they send you home with to throw up in. As for the bed, just a towel underneath us in case any accidents from the other end happened. My sister and I were pretty good with making it to the bucket or toilet in time.

  36. Sharla says

    Bobbie, I just wanted to say thank you so desperately much for your blog. It was a comfort to me at 2:30 a.m. I really needed this advice. I’m an at home mom of 4 kids and 1 of whom is autistic. He vomits when he gets upset. So the tips you have given will help tremendously. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  37. karyn says

    Someone else may have already said it but I think your number 1 best tip is right there near the end, “If you need to take your child to Urgent Care then do it. Trust that instinct and get it done”. That is by far the best advice to give any parent. Sod the bill, if your heart is telling you your child needs medical care then do it. Good on you for adding that bit in your post.


  1. […] I was ready to swear off parenting at that point. One roto virus with two children aged 2 and under and a carsick prone child later and throw up has lost it’s power.  Now rather than shriek, freak out and run away like our oldest child, we just embrace it and know what to do when a child is throwing up.  […]

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