Q&A: Vomit for Beginners

Amy writes:

"I wonder, if you don’t have other, more pressing topics to consider, if you’d post my query for the readers to help me with?

I dare not so much as whisper this aloud, but my 3.5 year old has never had a stomach bug. Historically she has projectile vomited when presented with foods or meds (she has tactile and taste defensiveness from birth), but never as part of a virus. Look, I am not stupid. I know she will eventually catch a stomach flu or get hit with food poisoning, but I don’t know how to deal with it. I want to be prepared, because of all the bodily fluids, vomit is the one that I have never been able to deal with well.

There are some basic things I do know, like my day care’s rule about vomiting (24-hours minimum vomit-free + standard rules about fevers), and I know to watch my daughter’s temperature, to track how many times she vomits in a hour/day, and to do what I can to prevent or treat dehydration. So I guess my questions are primarily practical.

*How do you train a child to vomit into a container? Do you have to train them? Or are they like cats and they pretty much self-train, like with a litter box?
*What do you do with a vomiting child? Resign yourself to sitting with them while the retch, sure, but do you put out drop cloths in between episodes? Or do you isolate yourselves to one room and let it go, knowing you’ll just rent a steam cleaner when it’s done with?
*Do you make the child rinse her mouth or brush her teeth after vomiting?
*Wait. Aside from Pedi@lyte, how do you prevent or treat dehydration? There’s no guarantee I could get that into my daughter, especially if it’s unfamiliar."

I hate to say it, but this series of questions made me chuckle. I guess I just can’t imagine worrying about puke in this much detail! But maybe that’s because my experience of kids vomiting is that it just sort of happens in a flash–one minute the kid’s looking a little off, and the next minute there’s barf all over everyone’s clothes, in my hair, and all over the floor/sheets/couch/whatever. From normal to three loads of laundry in 5 seconds.

In short, I don’t think you can really plan for it.

The puking game is different with babies (who often projectile puke, often into a parent’s mouth or eyes–I’ve had both, although thankfully not on the same day) because they kind of just throw up and move on happily with their lives, unless they’re really sick.

But preschoolers and up (IME) tend to be more like adults when they get pukey-sick. They just want to lie on the couch and moan. And moan. And ask you questions like, "Mom, am I ever going to feel better again?" with those big sad sweet eyes that break your heart.

I don’t think you can train them to puke into a container. If there’s a container there they won’t avoid it, but they won’t be able to hold the barf back, so you’ll probably end up doing a bunch of laundry anyway.

On the other hand, I doubt the kid will want to be up and around, either. So the vomit area will be contained, and after the initial shocking vomit episode, subsequent puking will probably be just more of the same, in the same place.

I wouldn’t bother with a steam cleaner (assuming you didn’t feed your kid a big bowl full of permanent ink right before the vomiting episode), but would just go with Bac-Out or Nature’s Miracle or one of the other pet stain cleaners.

Your daughter will want to rinse the taste of the puke out of her mouth. She may not like the taste of the Pedialyte, but you can try a sports drink, or just plain water alternating with juice.

You’ll know she’s better when she’s ready to eat something that’s not bananas, rice, applesauce, or toast.

Anyone have any conflicting or additional tips on vomit? Do you have other regional terms for vomit? (I think I covered the standard Americanisms: vomit, throw-up, puke, barf.)

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