How to Deal With a Puking Baby


The other night when our 14-month-old started puking, I thought, “I have five kids and I’m still stupid!”

Maybe you are a new parent who has never dealt with a puking baby or a seasoned parent who somehow got to skip this joy before.  If your baby just puked on you, you’re probably not googling it.  One, because you’re covered in vomit and you don’t want to touch anything.  Two, because it’s just too late.  You didn’t know the signs and now you’re cuddling your sweet baby and you want to cry and you’re having paranoid thoughts that they might be dying.

Just like learning infant CPR, every parent should form a plan as to what they’re going to do when their baby gets a stomach virus.  It’s like writing a will.  We don’t want to think about it, but eventually it’s going to happen.

If your baby is refusing food, for Heaven’s sake, don’t live in denial.  That was our rookie mistake.  Our daughter who normally eats everything in sight was refusing delicious food.  We were in denial.  I had also just had the virus.

If you have any suspicion that your baby is about to throw-up, prepare.  They don’t know or care about hitting any targets and will most likely lie right back down after it happens and go to sleep.  I have watched children as old as 4 years old do this.  I have no idea how that’s possible, but they do. If they are in your bed, you will be so desperate for them to sleep, you will be trapped with vomit smell for the rest of the night and then suddenly you won’t feel so good either (again).

I assure you, when it happens, it will horrify you.  Allow me to acquaint you with the rules of this particular baby conspiracy.

Puking Baby Rule #1

Do it in the middle of the night.  Catch your parents completely off guard.  In the car also works.

Puking Baby Rule #2

Do it right after you ate one of the most awful things you could possibly eat.  Even if your parent thinks putting you in the bathtub was a genius idea, some things just won’t go down the drain.  Did you eat a bunch of corn earlier?  High five!

Puking Baby Rule #3

See that thing Mommy and Daddy are shoving right under your face?  They want to collect your precious food you consumed earlier. Don’t let them.  The bowl or container of their choice is obviously lethal.  Treat it as such.  You really can hurl and smack the evil bowl at the same time.

Puking Baby Rule #4

Now that you’re soaking in your own regurgitated food, you need a hug.  But you want a hug from the parent that is the most grossed out by this.

Puking Baby Rule #5

Prevent clean-up by lying down at the scene of the crime. (Right after your hug)  Don’t worry, you have plenty of time because right now they’re just going to look helpless and clueless for an extended period of time.


And now for some advice.

  1.  Get extra bedding ready for their crib as soon as you are suspicious that they’re getting sick.  (For the next time they sleep in it, which most likely won’t be tonight.)
  2. If they are in your bed, put something on top of it so you don’t have to strip everything off in the middle of the night.  A large towel or thick blankets work.  Remember how you had too many blankets?  Not anymore!  You can quickly change out something that is on top of the bed.
  3. Now that you’ve seen the face your baby makes right before they throw-up (sometimes it might just be a little cough or maybe even something that resembles chewing), you might have enough time to prevent another disastrous mess.  Grab a laundry basket that is lined with a large towel or blanket, and sit them down in it.  You can try covering their chest with a towel.  And just have them hang out in their diaper at this point because clothing is pointless.  Your clothing has probably become pointless too!
  4. Take comfort in the fact that it will become less awful each time, but still heartbreaking.

This post isn’t meant for medical advice – just dealing with the aftermath.  Of course, call their pediatrician or nurse hotline if you have any concerns.  And know that if you’re a first time parent, they’re probably laughing on the inside about your adorable paranoia.  I confess, during the ordeal the other night in which my fifth child vomited exactly two times, it only took me about 30 seconds to imagine a scenario that involved my baby being dehydrated, my van possibly breaking down on the way to the hospital, the nurses not being able to get an IV in, and then being transferred to Children’s Hospital where they would successfully get the IV in, but inform me that my precious baby had not the brief virus I had, but something deadly.

Of course, this didn’t happen.  After keeping watch until 5:30 am, I realized I was a fool and could have slept.  She resumed her usual activities as if nothing happened.

Do you have any tips for dealing with vomiting babies, toddlers, or children who still act like toddlers?


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