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?
*This post is one of the oldest and most popular on Clumsy Crafter. It came around because of a child we had with stomach issues. During that time, we reached a professional level at handling throw up in our cars and homes. Now after a week of the stomach bug going through our home, I thought I’d take a second to share this with you again. It’s great advice but there’s also a ton of great tips in the comments so don’t forget to read those!
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 or bedwetting! 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.
If you want to read a few more tips:
Check out this follow up post – What to Do When Your Kids Are Throwing Up, which is full of some of the best comments and pieces of advice from other parents.
Need something to keep them busy while they feel bad? How about grabbing some paint and a big piece of paper? Here’s a few great tips for painting with young kids. You can also find some really craft simple craft ideas to keep them busy on my Creative Kids Pinterest Board.