Inside: Toddler stomach bug symptoms, 12 toddler stomach bug remedies, what to feed your toddler if they have the stomach bug.
Your toddler seemed perfectly fine two hours ago. Now all the sudden he has an upset stomach and is 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.
Keep reading to see if you toddler has any of the symptoms of the stomach flu as well as 12 toddler stomach bug remedies to ease the next 24 tiresome hours.
I am NOT a doctor and I am not giving medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider if needed. I am mother and blogger sharing my personal experiences and opinions with the goal of helping other fellow parents.
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What causes Viral Gastroenteritis?
According to Clevelandclinic.org, Viral Gastroenteritis is caused bacteria, toxins and parasites.
“Norovirus is often the culprit for adults, while rotavirus is frequently to blame for stomach flu in children. These viruses mostly infect the lining of the small intestine.”Clevelandclinic.org
What are the stomach flu symptoms?
According to Verywellhealth.org, young children might have the stomach flu if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Muscle pain
- Weight loss
- Decreased appetite
Toddler Stomach Bug Remedies
During the vomiting stage (usually the first 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.
Likewise, make sure your child is washing their hands. You too, caretaker, ensure you are sanitizing your hands, because the stomach bug tends to spread like wildfire.
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 intestines and 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.
It’s a good idea to disinfect all of these items once the stomach bug is gone.
Read more: The Pros and Cons of the Pacifier
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 get plenty of rest. 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, hand sanitizer 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 clear fluids in small amounts. Don’t let him gulp it down because it might come right back up. The best way is to offer small sips of water every couple of minutes.
For older children, they can sip on ice chips to keep the hydrated.
You could also offer an oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte which has rehydration salts to counteract dehydration in your toddler.
Pedialyte is proven to be better than sodas, fruit juice and sports drinks such as Gatorade because it has “the optimal balance of sugar and electrolytes needed to fast rehydration.”
We keep a stock of in our house now for when anyone gets a common cold, fever, or just needs a boost of hydration. Since we use it so much, I started buying in bulk and using these Pedialyte Electrolyte Powder variety that you can simply add to water.
These Pedialyte popsicles are also pretty nifty.
After 24 hours, your child should be feeling better and can now drink plenty of fluids.
Below is a list of serious signs of dehydration. If your child is experiencing any of the following signs, take them to the emergency room immediately:
- Not urinating at all or having extremely dark yellow pee.
- Dry skin.
- Rapid heartbeat or breathing.
- Sunken eyes.
- Feeling lethargic.
- Tiredness, confusion or irritable.
9. Offer Light Foods.
Some recommended bland foods for the stomach flu are
When Lennox finally showed interest in eating, I gave him some light solid foods such as buttered toast, pretzels, saltine crackers. I also 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.
You should also avoid giving your child the following foods:
- Dairy products
- Spicy foods
- Fatty Foods
- Highly seasoned foods.
- Sugary foods like ice cream
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 Vicks BabyRub 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:
- Practice good hand hygiene. Wash and sanitize hands frequently.
- 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.
- Wash all linens, towels and closes in a hot wash cycle to kill all the bacteria.
Well I hope these tips helped!
The good news is that this illness passes pretty quickly, normally within 24 hours. Afterwards your child’s body might been tired and they might sleep more, which is a sign that they are recovering.
Now it is a waiting game to see if 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.
Friday 10th of June 2022
thank you for a very good article
Saturday 18th of December 2021
Does point 2 really say no food or drinks for the first 12 hours? We’re not going to give our toddlers food or drinks for 12 hours? Am I reading that wrong?
Wednesday 29th of December 2021
Point 2 does say no food or drink for the first 12 hours while the body rids the flu. If you feed your baby, this might provoke more vomiting or diarrhea. So instead, stick with ice chips (for older children) or small sips of clear liquids. Avoid dairy as that might upset the stomach further. If the voting subsides after 12 hours, you can start introducing saltine crackers or toast.
Trish ~ Habibi House
Tuesday 19th of March 2019
Oh, watching my little guy sick is quite possibly the saddest moments ever. He just had the flu and boy did I need your tips then.
Thursday 28th of March 2019
It really is the saddest. I hope it wasn't too rough for you, mama.
Tuesday 19th of March 2019
A puke bowl in a necessity in our house as well as extra blankets. My kids are older now, but that puke bowl has helped so much. My husband is a sympathy puker, so that means clean up always falls on me. It's so much easier to just empty a bowl than to clean the carpet or getting body fluids out of a chair or mattress.
Wednesday 3rd of April 2019
The puke bowl is key. Thanks for reading and commenting =)
Tuesday 19th of March 2019
Awww poor baby, my sons have yet to experience this but I booked marked it for future references.
Wednesday 3rd of April 2019
Thank you! It wasn't fun, but these tips really helped me out!