5 Tips on Handling the Stomach Flu with Kids

Sunday, December 4, 2016

It's the holidays, which means good food and spending time with those you love!  All in one space.  For extended periods of time.  The result? If someone's sick, everyone else is going to get it.  It's just one of those facts of life.

We are finishing up a week with the stomach flu, and it hit everyone in my house.  Twice.  I don't even know how that happens, but I'm crossing my fingers we're on the tail end of it because it's been brutal.

The 7 Habits, as told by Max

My 5 year old is learning the 7 habits of highly effective kids at school, and it's adorable.  Number 3 is put first things first.  I fell back on that more times that I can count this past week when one of my kids had been violently ill and I didn't have any idea on how to go about cleaning it up.  Then his cute little voice would pop into my head - put first things first! Ok.  The first thing in this case is my child -- so I'd strip them down and get them in the tub.  Soap them up, dry them off, get them in clean clothes and then tackle the rest of the mess.  Usually getting sheets in the laundry and then using sanitizing wipes on the crib came next, or get the throw up covered towels and clothes in the wash, then sanitize the floor.  And the shower curtain.  And the vanity.  And the tub.  Because. It. Was. Everywhere.

Here are my 5 tips when the stomach flu strikes:

1.  Double make the beds.  My kids have a waterproof mattress protector (we love these ones) and then a fitted sheet on their beds.  When they're sick or potty training, I put a waterproof pad on top of that (2 feet x 3 feet) at the top part of the bed where they sleep, and then cover it with another sheet -- fitted or flat, doesn't really matter because this you'll probably be removing it in the next three hours.  This means you can throw the top layers in the wash, grab a clean blanket and throw it over your kid before stumbling back to bed (or bathroom, if you've got the stomach flu too) without having to completely remake the bed.  Because you already did!

2.  Pedialyte.  The name brand stuff.  The store brand kind tastes SO bad, which is saying something because Pedialyte is pretty gross anyway.  Dehydration is probably the biggest concern while you're fighting the stomach flu.  Pedialyte was recommended by our doctor over Gatorade, she said the amount of sugar in the Gatorade could make symptoms worse.  But, if our kids wouldn't drink Pedialyte, give them watered down Gatorade, 1:1 ratio.  My kids hate Pedialyte.  They just won't drink it, my 1 year old included.  So we did watered down Gatorade, and I drank the Pedialyte because the stomach flu is no respecter of persons and hit Paul and I just as hard as our kids.  Helpful hint?  Add ice.  Ice cold Pedialyte is much easier to drink than lukewarm Pedialyte.  The cherry punch flavor was tolerable.  I can't even imagine trying to down the unflavored kind.

3.  Diapers.  My 1 year old is in diapers.  The very best for containing everything was by far the Huggies Little Snugglers (the ones with Winnie the Pooh).  He's in transition from size 4 to size 5, and the Little Snugglers I had left were size 4 -- and it worked best because it was a tighter fit than the size 5 diapers.  They absorbed and contained better than the others.  Huggies Snug and Dry (the ones with Mickey Mouse) are usually the other kind of diapers I have around, and they were only ok.  I have a couple of Target brand diapers floating around too -- not good.  We tried the Smith's brand when we were at the pediatrician and he pooped through the two diapers I had brought in with me, and that was what they had in their office. The Smith's brand was by far the worst.  Like dripping-a-trail-on-floor-on-the-way-to-change-his-diaper bad.  If you don't normally spring for name brand diapers, the time to do it is now, when the stomach flu hits with full force.  We're looking for something that absorbs as quickly as possible, because there is nothing solid coming out of those kids.

4.  Pull-ups.  My 3 year old is newly potty trained, and still does pull-ups a night.  I bought a box from Costco that came with a package of overnight pull-ups, and I had no idea that I'd ever be so appreciative.  We've never needed them til now, because he stays pretty dry at night.  Granted, they weren't great at containing everything, but they were better than a regular pull-up.  We had a night where we had to change his bed twice.  While he's been sick, he's been in a pull-up 24/7 to make everyone's lives easier.  I don't feel like he's regressed at all, he does a good job of going to the bathroom when he needs to (when he can make it in time...).

5.  Bland foods.  Bring on the starches.  We've existed almost entirely on noodles, crackers, and toast this week.  The BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) diet would be good to employ right about now, except none of my kids are currently eating bananas (why??).  The pouch applesauces from Costco are my favorite, and we went through an entire box of them this week.  I'd let them have apples, but no clementines, grapes, peaches or any other fruit that exacerbate the problem. The two youngest can't have dairy anyway, but Paul, Max and I also stayed away from dairy and that seemed to help.

And the laundry.  Be prepared for all the laundry.  All day and all night.

Bonus tips:
Bring on the Netflix, and don't even feel bad about it.  Not even a little bit.  Especially if you're sick too.  We do tend to run into more behavior problems when we watch too much TV, but costs versus benefits.  For us it was totally worth it.

Bowls.  Have bowls everywhere, even if a child says they don't feel sick. They might realize too late that they actually DO feel sick, and if there's a bowl handy it can make clean up so much easier.

Diaper cream.  Not only good for babies bums, but bigger kids too if they've been running to the bathroom every 10 minutes for the past 48 hours.

Things to grab at the store:
- Lysol or Clorox Wipes (Amazon and Costco have a good price on these)
- Waterproof crib pads like these
- Apple sauce pouches (Costco has the best price on these)
- Pedialyte (get just one and see if your kids will drink it.  Do yourself a favor and don't get the unflavored kind.  Walmart has the best price on this).
- Gatorade or Powerade
- Diaper rash cream (A+D original ointment or Boudreaux's Butt Paste have been the most successful for me - I usually buy mine at Walmart)
- Crackers: Saltines or club crackers
- Huggies Little Snugglers or Overnight Pull-ups
- Aquaphor (because you'll be washing your hands every two minutes, and that takes a toll).

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