How to Survive When the Stomach Flu Strikes Your Home

by: Courtney Key
When the stomach bug hits your household, don't panic! Use these tips and tricks to survive this dreaded sickness.
Sick Child Laying in Bed

When the stomach flu strikes your home, there's usually an overwhelming feeling of panic, dread, and uncertainty. When my son had the stomach flu for the first time, I remember feeling unprepared and worried, but rest assured that you will get through this! Take comfort in knowing that there are several at-home remedies and tips that will help ease the symptoms, all while keeping your child a bit more comfortable.

Hydration & Food

Hydration is key, whether it's Pedialyte (they have popsicles too), Gatorade, or water. Whatever your child will drink is a small victory, and offering a small amount (i.e. a teaspoon at a time) is a good way to see if it will stay down. If your little one is resistant to drinking, try a special cup and straw that's usually off limits. A pop is also worth trying, since it's a special treat and it provides hydration. Worst case scenario, try a syringe with a few mls (this worked when my son was very sick).

BRAT diet

If your child is able to keep down fluids and seems interested in eating, remember the acronym BRAT. Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast are all safe bets. After battling my son's first stomach flu, I learned that it was smart to always have these foods in my pantry. When my son was ready to eat, toast and bananas was the extent of his diet for several days.

At Home Remedies

Whoever gets the stomach bug is going to be cranky and uncomfortable, but there are some at home remedies to try.

  • Peppermint or ginger tea can help settle upset tummies. You can even add a bit of honey. While children may be opposed to a warm tea or broth, this is worth making for adults or teenagers.
  • Let your little one sleep when they can. I'm all for following a schedule, but it's important to let your child rest as much as they can when they're sick.
  • Tylenol can help with any aches or pains, especially at night, and it's gentler on the stomach than ibuprofen

Entertainment

Rules are meant to be broken when your child is sick. I don't limit screen time when my son is sick because he's miserable. If a movie or TV show takes his mind off how bad he feels, I'm all for it. We like to watch PBS, Hulu and Netflix movies and shows, and Amazon Prime. Prime has educational shows exclusive to Prime members that are unique and refreshing. You can search based on your child's interest.

Sick Kid Watching Television

Tips

  • Sanitize like crazy. The stomach flu is highly contagious, so it's important to kill germs. Remember to clean toys, bedding, and frequently touched items (doorknobs, remotes, etc.).
  • Once your child has been sick for 24-48 hours, throw out their toothbrush. I always do this because I'm paranoid that germs will linger. Be sure to boil pacifiers and bottles.
  • Use your dishwasher on the max temperature. This isn't the time to hand wash your dishes.
  • If a caregiver becomes sick, sleep in separate rooms.
  • Hold off on playdates until your child is feeling better, usually a week or so.
  • Line up back-up childcare. If your child is sick during the week, it's smart to figure out who can take a sick day.

When to Call Your Doctor

Most pediatricians have an on-call doctor that can answer pressing concerns. I always tell myself that if a phone call is going to put my mind at ease, call. I also refer to my son's pediatrician's website which is full of helpful resources. There's an informative section about the stomach flu and it tells readers exactly what to do. I even have this page printed on the side of my fridge!

Remember to bookmark this article, because when you the stomach bug strikes, you need all the help you can get. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that it's quick and doesn't take your whole house down. Best of luck!