12 Tips for When Your Toddler Has the Stomach Flu

Your toddler seemed perfectly fine two hours ago. Now all the sudden he’s throwing up what looks like his whole day’s food. What could be going on? Did he eat something bad?

He might have Viral Gastroenteritis, AKA the stomach flu.

I hated having the stomach flu when I was a child, and as an adult, I used to hyperventilate at the slightest stomach ache thinking it would be the stomach flu. So, to say I have been scared shitless for the first time my son would get the stomach bug is an understatement.


Well, it happened. Two nights ago, I put Lennox in his crib and I was so excited to finally get some blogging done, when all of the sudden I hear ‘cough, cough’, followed by a startled cry. I knew exactly what was happening. I opened the door and was immediately greeted with a whiff of—okay, I'll spare you the details. I immediately started panicking in my head. I took a deep breath and composed myself. I remembered how scary it was for me as a child, so what my son needed was a calm and nurturing mama.

For the next 24 hours, I put on my imaginary scrubs and got to work. Believe it or not, it went extremely smooth and I feel like I bonded with Lennox on a different level.

Below are 12 tips to help you get your toddler through the stomach bug.

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During the vomiting stage (around 12 hours)

1. Keep your toddler contained in one area.

Viral Gastroenteritis is extremely contagious and it stays on contaminated objects for days. It is best to keep your toddler in one area of your living space to avoid contaminating other areas as much as possible. I know this might sound difficult because, well, toddlers are hard to contain, but if they have the stomach bug their energy is going to be zero to none.

We kept Lennox in our bedroom where he had a spacious bed and TV to keep him distracted from his aches and pains.

Related: 11 Solutions and Remedies for Reflux in Infants. Help Your Baby Spit Up Less and Sleep Longer

2. During the first 12 hours avoid liquids and food.

I know you might be worried about getting your toddler to drink or eat something since he is throwing up so much, but don’t! Not for the first 12 hours at least. Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the intestinesand through vomiting or diarrhea, your body is working to get the infection out. Any intake of food or liquids will come right back out. After the first 12 hours, and once the vomiting or diarrhea has stopped, then you can offer clear liquids.

3. Keep a bowl or bucket nearby.

One of my biggest worries was having Lennox throw up all over the place. He is a young toddler and doesn’t even know he should go pee in the potty yet, much less vomit.

I kept a bucket nearby the first few hours. What helped me know when to bring the bucket to Lennox was when he would start to shift around. I immediately would sit him up and bring the bucket near him.


It is extremely important to sit your toddler up to avoid choking.

I also kept my hand on his belly because I realized right before he would have a vomiting episode, his belly would start to spasm.

4. Keep your toddler distracted by his favorite shows and movies.

In between his vomiting episodes, Lennox was pretty calm. In fact, he even had the energy to stand up and walk around. However, you don't your toddler to overexert himself so, it's best to distract him. This will also prevent him from throwing up in unwanted areas.

I kept movies on for Lennox to distract him from wandering around.

5. Offer lovies/ TLC.

Your toddler is going to be scared. He does not understand what is happening to him. He needs to be comfortable and he needs his mama and any of his comfort items. For Lennox, he loves his Wubbanubs and Soothie pacifiers. Make sure you disinfect all of these items once the stomach bug is gone.

Lennox when he had the stomach flu

During the fatigue stage (12 hours)

6. Lots and lots of rest.

Usually, after the first 12 hours, the vomiting/ diarrhea has calmed down. Now your child is going to be extremely tired from not sleeping and exerting his stomach muscles so much. He is now going to be very fatigued. Make his area extremely comfortable and allow him to rest as much as possible. Don't be concerned. His little body is still working to get rid of that mean bug.

Related: 5 Tips to help your sensitive-sleeper sleep better

7. Nursing Station.

While Lennox took his first four-hour nap, I took the time to set up a nursing station on my side table. I had all of my liquids, snacks, Children's Tylenol and Motrin, tissues, and wet washcloths. This way, when Lennox was awake I could give him all of my TLC and have everything I need at arm’s reach.


8. Offer small sips of liquids.

Your toddler is going to be very thirsty. After the first 12 hours, offer him liquids in small amounts. Don’t let him slurp it down because it will come right back up.

Our drink of choice was Pedialyte which has rehydration salts to counteract dehydration in your toddler. Pedialyte is proven to be better than sodas and Gatorade because it has “the optimal balance of sugar and electrolytes needed to fast rehydration.”

9. Offer Light Foods.

Some recommended foods for the stomach flu are

· Crackers

· Pretzels

· Toast

· Bananas

· Rice

· Broth

When Lennox finally showed interest in eating, I gave him buttered toast, pretzels, crackers and I made a homemade crockpot chicken noodle soup from this recipe here. He loved the broth which helped rehydrate him and he also ate some of the vegetable and noodles which filled his empty tummy.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

10. TLC Did I mention it already?

There is never too much TLC when your toddler is sick. Every moment Lennox was awake, I was laying with him and comforting his small aching body. I took advantage of his sleep to take care of household chores and other priorities.

11. Often times the stomach flu is accompanied by a low-grade fever.

Lennox had a 100.7 fever. I gave him Acetaminophen (Tylenol) which is apparently “easier on the stomach” than Ibuprofen (Motrin).

It was a warm day out so I kept Lennox in just a diaper, sometimes diaperless to let his manhood breathe. I kept the windows open and a fan on. I also placed a damp towel on his forehead and neck. Every couple of hours or so, I would massage his fragile body with baby Vicks to soothe the aches and pains.

12. Change diaper quickly if experiencing diarrhea.

Lennox only had one episode of diarrhea, but if your child is experiencing diarrhea, make sure to change his diaper frequently to avoid diaper rash, and make sure to apply diaper rash cream to avoid more diaper rash.


I hope these tips help you and your child’s 24 hours of misery. The flu is going around right now so please make sure you always:

· Wash you and your toddler's hands

· Avoid sharing foods

· Stay isolated from others until the flu is completely out of your system plus a day or two to avoid passing it along.

· Sanitize your whole house after you and your family experience the stomach flu.

Now it is a waiting game to see I am next on the stomach’s flu list. Hopefully Lennox will take care of me =)

We hope your toddler gets better as soon as possible =) Don’t forget to follow us on social media for daily updates.


Lorena & Lennox

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