We have been very fortunate, in the 4.5 years of parenthood we have clocked in thus far, to not have had to deal with the dreaded “stomach flu.” Our kids have been hosts of colds and flus aplenty- but not the dreaded pukefest. The stomach flu is not the flu, or a type of flu, rather it is in the family of Noroviruses. These lovely little germs spread very quickly (usually oral/fecal) and especially love our kids as they are not the cleanliest group of humans.
In early December, our youngest, who is now two, threw up all over mommy. A wonderful, projectile, spewed across the span of 3 feet right onto mommy’s lap. Joy. Merry Christmas. ’Tis the season. Jolly good times. I hoped it was just the precursor to the common cold, as toddlers will often throw up before a cold sets in. Instead, we had about 4 days of throwing up every 6 hours (which wasn’t so bad), and of course, a diarrhea diaper 1-2 times a day.
So for any first-timers out there, here are some tips. First, this is one time it is actually good to go visit the good doctor. You want to be sure it’s not something else. For example, did they swallow a foreign object, is there a more worrisome virus in the community, appendicitis, etc. The doctor can rule just about everything out from a simple exam. Even touching base via phone is good. When you have children who are too young to communicate their symptoms well, a doctor can provide a reassuring diagnosis.
Second, drape all your nice furniture in old blankets. This will protect it from those quick projectile deliveries. They will happen, trust me. Roll up any rugs in the main play area as well. It’s really not fun cleaning up puke. If you have carpet, place old sheets wherever you can in the main area your child spends most of their time. Keep in mind this is for the younger infant and toddler aged child who isn’t able to predict when they will vomit. For a 3+ child, get a large bucket. They can keep this close to them, and makes it easy to clean for you. Our four year old son developed his symptoms about 3 days after his sister was over hers. He was quite proud of his precision aiming into the bucket!
Keep them on a bland diet. Bananas. Cereal. Crackers. You get the idea. To my surprise, our pediatrician said no water! He said it can upset the stomach even more due to the minerals. He also did not recommend the pediatric versions of gatorade. He said they taste horrible and kids usually won’t drink them! So he said just give them as much of adult sports drinks that they want. So we did, and it kept them both happy and well hydrated.
At night time, since we co-sleep, on her side of the bed I placed a towel down and a sheet over it. This would protect the bed and sheets from any incidents during the night. I’d rather replace a towel that remake the entire bed. I also placed a large sheet on her bedroom floor. I was able to wake up as she woke up, and quickly move here there to puke than in the bed. She refused to puke in a bucket, so old sheets were the only option.
Also, wash your hands A LOT. Clean towels, sheets, clothes with Clorox2. Clorox2 is a great laundry detergent as it will kill most bacteria and viruses, and it’s color safe. Use hot water in the cycle. Bleach the puke bucket after every puke. This prevents mommy and daddy from getting it too! We escaped it, thankfully.
Finally, give them lots of loves, keep a chart of the puking and pooping. Also watch carefully for how often they urinate. Being aware of their hydration is very important. Keep track of wet diapers and ask the older children to let you know when they urinate. Dehydration can be dangerous. Reassure them that we have all gone through this, it’s a normal part of life. That goes a long way, as does a sense of humor! Our four year old loved the puke in the bucket game. :-)
Thanks for reading! Remember, this too shall pass!
Disclaimer: This article is based on my experience only and is not a replacement for advice from your physician.