My poor little man (he’s 13 months) has just suffered through 5 days of the stomach flu. We’re not really sure where, how and when he caught it, but what we do know is that both my husband and I have had a run-in with it, and it’s not pretty. Now that I know, personally, how bad it is, I can’t imagine how my little guy must feel. We’re on the mend (thank the Lord), and this is what I’ve learned about how to care for a toddler with the stomach flu.
1. Get your flu shots early (oh, if we could only go back in time…)
2. If your baby or toddler has a fever, blood in his/her stool or is extremely dehydrated, it is best to take him or her to the Doctor or hospital right away.
3. Stock up: On diapers, wipes, sleepers, laundry detergent, fitted crib sheets and penaten- you’re going to need them.
4. Fluids, fluids, fluids: Make sure your baby/toddler is drinking enough- it doesn’t take long for a baby or toddler to become dehydrated- especially if he or she is vomiting and/or has diarrhea. If you’re still breastfeeding, continue to offer breastmilk even if your baby is vomiting and has diarrhea. He or she is still retaining some of the nutrition and fluid. If your toddler is not breastfeeding, you may want to lay off any sort of milk. If your baby or toddler can tolerate formula, great, keep offering it in small amounts several times a day as well as an oral rehydration drink if he or she is dehydrated. Because my son was vomiting and had diarrhea (poor guy), I’ve been offering water and an oral rehydration drink (such as Pedialyte) frequently throughout the day and night to ensure that he stays hydrated. Do not try to make your own oral rehydration drink- it is easy to make mistakes with ingredients and amounts. Real fruit juice will not rehydrate your tot as well as an oral rehydration drink will and may even make diarrhea worse. If you do offer juice, make sure that it is 100% fruit juice and dilute it with water.
5. If your toddler is refusing to drink: Offer fluids in different ways. Try a bottle, a regular cup, a sippy cup (you may want to try a few different kinds), a cup with a straw built in, a tsp measure, a syringe, a medicine dropper or a popsicle. For us, the popsicle route has been the best, along with room temperature fluids in his favourite sippy cup. We’ve found real fruit popsicles with no added sugar. Even better would be to make an oral rehydration drink popsicle- mix water and an infant oral rehydration drink (or leave out the water) and put into popsicle containers and into the freezer. Make sure you try offering fluids at different temperatures. Babies and toddlers tend to prefer room temperature or slightly warmed fluids.
6. Solid foods:If your little one is over 6 months and is still willing to eat solid foods even though he or she is sick, great! Offer easily digested foods such as bananas, white rice (rice cereal is usually fine), unsweetened apple sauce, toast and really anything else that your toddler will eat.
Be prepared for the old “swat and turn away” as my husband calls it, or the famous “taste, sour face, and spit”. That’s always nice. Try not to get discouraged- fluids are number one, so focus on keeping your toddler hydrated and ease back into solids once he or she is feeling better.