I have been compensated by Pedialyte for this post; however, I am sharing my own thoughts. All opinions are my own.
I think one of the worst things about being a parent is having to clean up vomit. Even the word vomit makes me cringe on the inside. Ugh. I remember the first time my son got a stomach virus. He was three years old. One of my first reactions was, I need to call my mom so she can get over here and clean this up! Seriously. That’s exactly what I wanted to do. But my mom lives 2000 miles away, so that wasn’t an option. I was on my own and had to figure out what to do when your child throws up. I wasn’t even sure exactly how to take care of him. Could he eat? Drink? If so, when?
Kids are going to get a stomach bug at some point. Most kids have had it at least once by the time they are 5 years old. The norovirus (aka stomach flu) is always out there, but it seems more common during winter and spring. My family doesn’t always get hit with it, but this past year we did. All six of us took turns getting sick. There was a 3-day period where my washer and dryer ran non-stop. I even thought about calling the Guinness Book of World Records to see if that qualified for some sort of laundry record.
What do you do when your child throws up? These are my tips for comforting a sick child and cleaning up stomach flu aftermath. Stomach flu symptoms can last for 1-3 days. Please call your doctor for medical advice.
- First things first: Don’t panic. Throwing up is a scary experience for most kids, so try to act calm and collected around them. When my kids were little, they did not understand what was going on and why their body felt so terrible. I did my best to comfort them and provide a simple explanation: “Your tummy is sick,” “Your tummy is getting rid of the germs,” “You may throw up again in a few minutes.” I reassure them that I am going to stay with them and take care of them while they are sick.
- Once your child’s vomiting episode is over (at least for the moment), remove any soiled clothing. Give them a warm bath, especially if they have vomit on them. Dress them in clean, comfortable clothing. Continue to keep them as clean as possible, which can be a challenge while they are in the first (and worst) stages of a stomach virus.
- Be ready to help your child get to the toilet or a trash can/bucket if they start feeling sick again. Most likely, your child will vomit every 5 to 30 minutes for the first few hours. If they are too young or sick to run to the toilet, have a plastic bag lined bucket for them to use. Throw away and replace the plastic bag liner as needed. I also like to use towels as sheet and pillowcase protectors so my child can rest in their bed and throw up on a towel if they need to. Towels are easy to wash and I can always have a clean towel ready.
- Encourage your child to rest. If they will lie down and sleep, that’s great. If not, try to get them to at least sit still. I turn on a favorite kids show or movie for them to watch.
- Do not let your child eat solid food. Once the worst of your child’s vomiting has passed, prevent dehydration with a clear liquid diet. I let my sick child sip on Pedialyte liquid or a Pedialyte popsicle. Just a sip or two at first, to see if they can keep it down. Pedialyte is the #1 pediatrician-recommended oral electrolyte solution. It helps prevent mild to moderate dehydration by replacing vital minerals and nutrients that are lost due to vomiting and diarrhea.
I like to keep a bottle of Pedialyte on hand in my family medicine cabinet. That way, I have something to give my kids when they are sick and I am unable to go to the store. Pedialyte comes in a lot of different flavors and is easy to find at Walmart’s baby section. Sometimes I even let my kids pick out their favorite Pedialyte flavors ahead of time – because they probably won’t feel like making that kind of decision when they are sick.
- Clean and Disinfect household surfaces to prevent the spread of germs and stop the virus. Unfortunately, the norovirus (stomach flu) germs can be really hard to kill. They can live for a long time on surfaces. Two cleaners that have been proven to kill norovirus are bleach and hydrogen peroxide.
- Launder soiled sheets, towels, clothing, rugs, etc. First, rinse any vomit-soiled items as best you can to remove the solid particles. Then wash with hot water and detergent. I add a cup of vinegar to every load to help remove any residual odors.
Meanwhile, your child has hopefully stopped vomiting completely and started to feel better. When they are ready to try eating solid foods again, start out with a bland food diet. I like to follow the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast.) A more normal diet, including fruits and vegetables, should be okay to start within about 24 to 48 hours after vomiting.
Dealing with a stomach virus is no fun for anyone involved. As parents, we have to stay strong, even when we are thoroughly grossed out by all the vomit. The most important thing is to monitor your sick child and help them feel as comfortable as possible.
Do you have any tips for dealing with the stomach virus? Please feel free to share your advice with us in the comments below.