Tips for Parenting When the Stomach Flu Hits

December 8th, 2010 by Dionna | 4 Comments
Posted in Gentle/Positive Discipline, Homey Goodness, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, natural parenting, Respond with Sensitivity, Strive for Balance

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Number one tip for dealing with stomach bugs? Have lots and lots of towels handy.

When your little one is suffering from a stomach bug, you’ll need patience, compassion, a strong gag reflex, and a lot of spare towels. Here are a few tips (both my own and from more seasoned mamas) to help you weather the stomach flu storm, and my best wishes that it passes you over this season!1

Take Cover!

You’ll never know when the next round of vomiting will happen, so try to make a little nest for your kiddo to snuggle up in, and cover everything around it for easy clean-up.

  1. Cover everything with towels: the bed (or the couch, if that’s where your little one lands), the floor beneath, pillows, anything within range that will be a pain to clean. On the bed, cover the towels with a sheet if you want a softer surface for little faces. Have spare towels ready for when the old ones need to be changed.
  2. Try putting a Chux pad over the pillow and on the top of the bed with a towel over the pads. If the little one throws up in bed, you only have to change the towel and the pad, but not the sheets.
  3. Fleece blankets can also be useful over towels or sheets for very light illnesses. Fleece is somewhat water-resistant, and it’s a very soft place for little ones to lie down when resting.
  4. For particularly bad illnesses, a shower curtain can be a very safe way to avoid staining your mattress, couch, or floor. Just put it under a couple layers of towels and sheets for comfort.
  5. Keep something very nearby for little ones to be sick into: a big (lightweight) bowl, a towel (for little ones who can’t hit a bowl), a trash can. Small children will probably not be able to plan ahead enough to make it to the bathroom to throw up into the toilet, so make it easier on them – let them be sick wherever they are.
  6. When you have to carry a vomiting child, grab a towel and fold it up in between you and the child. The fold is to help catch any sick – and to protect you and the floor.
  7. For those times when the pukies are really bad, a last resort might be to make a bed in the bathroom.

Cleaning Up

This is no fun, especially when you are sick too! After you’ve taken care of your child, try to clean up the carpet first – you don’t want to have it soaking in and staining.

  1. Clean everything that comes in contact with vomit with a solution of vinegar, water, and tea tree oil.2
  2. Bac-Out is another cleaner good for eliminating stains and odors.
  3. Empty your clothes basket and keep it nearby to toss in the dirty towels and clothes. If you throw it into the basket immediately, you will not have to touch it twice (gross!), and you can throw everything into a heavy wash together when you have a minute.

Food and Drink Good for Sick Tummies

  1. If you are still breastfeeding, nurse often! Breastmilk is one of the best things for a sick tummy, both nutritionally and for the comfort factor. Plus, it has needed electrolytes and it is quickly absorbed.
  2. No matter what they eat or drink, make sure they are taking small sips/bites, and give them a few minutes in between each sip or bite.
  3. If your little one can’t be persuaded to take small sips, try a medicine dropper or a spoon to regulate the amount for her.
  4. Ginger has been shown to aid digestion and treat stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea for more than 2,000 years.3 Leslie Beck, RD has a wonderful article on the many forms of ginger, including recipes and information on buying and storing ginger. Be careful though, this article from the University of Maryland Medical Center advises against ginger for children under two years of age.
  5. Moms of at least two generations recommend small sips of water, soothing tea, 7-Up or real ginger ale every five minutes (to give the little one time to keep the previous sip down).
  6. Bland foods are best: Saltines or other crackers, mashed potatoes, clear jello (you do not want to clean up jello with any kind of food coloring in it), broth, rice, unsweetened applesauce, etc.
  7. I cannot stress enough not to offer any food that has food coloring in it. Cleaning up from the pukies is bad enough without adding in red dye 40 (or blueberries). {Shudder}

Miscellaneous Helpful Hints

  1. For little ones who recently potty learned, you might want to have some diapers (or pull-ups) handy. The disposable kind will be very useful if the stomach bug is affecting both ends4 Diapers are also useful for little ones when they are vomiting, because they might not have as much bladder control.
  2. Have a warm wet rag available to wipe mouths and hands. In the winter, I sometimes have a pot of water on the stove on low (like a humidifier) – you can just dip a wash rag in there for an easy supply of warm water.
  3. Have quiet, restful activities available for sick kids. Better to have a sick, occupied kid than a sick, bored kid. Read “How Do Moms Survive Sick Days, Part 1” for ideas on fun activities.
  4. Make life easier on yourself by cooking freezer meals, lowering your expectations, and making life as stress-free as possible. Here are some more ideas for making life easier in “How Do Moms Survive Sick Days, Part 2.”

What tips and tricks do you have for parenting during the stomach flu? Please share them in the comments!

Photo Credit: remind

  1. Kieran recently had his first bout with the stomach flu. Thankfully it was a 24 hour bug, but I did manage to gather some incredible bits of parenting wisdom from readers and friends. Many thank you’s to everyone who chimed in when I was panicked with our first case of the pukies!
  2. Ok, I have to admit, I went out after Kieran’s bug was done and bought some Clorox wipes. They stink SO much after having gotten rid of every commercial cleaner. But I was paranoid. I did clean all of Kieran’s toys with the homemade solution, but I’m keeping the Clorox wipes around for kitchen and bathroom surfaces for awhile, if only to make myself feel better.
  3. Ginger, University of Maryland Medical Center
  4. Although you die-hard cloth diaper mamas might not blink at diarrhea in cloth dipes, I think I’ll take my chances with the chemicals on those rare occasions.

4 Responses to:
"Tips for Parenting When the Stomach Flu Hits"

  1. Suzanne @ The Joyful Chaos   TheJoyfulChaos

    Here’s where I documented how we handle a house full of sick kiddos all at once. (Five of them to be exact!)

  2. Amy

    I am grateful tonight that you posted this…and that I remembered where I had read that post about the sickies ;D Both of my boys are upchucking today.

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