August 24, 2011

Throw Up

The other day, Stone threw up in the car.  I have three small children, so this shouldn't be a big thing, right?  Would you believe that this is only the second time my children have ever thrown up in a car?  Luck is on my side, people!  The first time was also Stone, but we were in a rental car, in a rental car seat.  No big deal.

This time, we were in my car in one of our brand spanking new car seats. Big deal.

I didn't really know the protocol for throw up in a car, so I called the only expert I know in this department, my friend Mie.  I'm sure she loves that she has mass quantities of experience in this department....

After her initial help to get me situated (and save my seat from the dumpster) she took the time to write a series of two guest posts on how to handle vomit, both the prevention of and the cleaning that comes when prevention fails.  She has some awesome ideas, read on:

As a working mom with an active career and a few educational credentials next to my name, I have plenty to put on my resume under the heading of expertise.  I honestly never planned to have that list include vomit removal.  But it’s there in size 1.5 font, one of the many fluencies I’ve managed to build through my job as mommy, and more specifically as foster mommy.  You see, in the past few months I’ve had a couple children in my home that like to vomit.  A LOT.  One does it because of severe motion sickness – if we drive more than, let’s say 2 miles there’s a high-probability she’ll empty the contents of her stomach.  The other does it as a way to control the situation – if he doesn’t want to do something (sit in time out, stop playing, go to bed, try a new food, eat his dinner vs. play, etc.) he vomits.  It’s been wonderful.  So when my friend Brit asked me to share my expertise with her in a way that doesn’t actually involve vomit removal from MY home (or car, or shirt, etc.) I jumped on the chance.  Any way I can use this talent for good by applying the new-found skill without actually sticking my hands in vomit is a task I’m happily willing to sign up for.  Plus, guest-blogging on one of my favorite sites?  Yes, please and thanks!

Here is a list of best practices we’ve learned that help us manage the mess:

An Ounce of Prevention…

A.  Limit Consumption 60 minutes before travel – that’s easier said than done and not always possible, but it’s something we attempt.  It also doesn’t guarantee a vomit-free car ride, but it seems to help.

  1. Boundaries and Choices – This is critical for our kiddo that vomits on command.  I’m guessing that most of you won’t face this challenge because in all the people I’ve talked to about this booger’s unusual behavior I have only found 1 or 2 people that knew of someone who had done it – it seems fairly rare.  Therefore, I won’t go into detail about how we prevent his vomiting, except to say that because it’s a way to control his situation, we provide him choices with strong boundaries.  As an example, rather than telling him “you must eat your oranges to get dessert tonight”  we tell him, especially when we see him start to get “the look”, “You don’t have to eat your oranges if you don’t want to”.  This always makes the look go away, but then we say “but remember, if you choose not to eat your oranges tonight, you will not be able to have any other snacks until breakfast.  If you eat your oranges, you can have snacks”.  Snacks in our home, after dinner, is equivalent to dessert.  Sometimes he chooses to eat and sometimes he doesn’t – either way he gets to choose and we stick to the boundaries.  Of course, knowing some of the main triggers we also try to set boundaries that set him and us up for success which means, as an example, when we serve mandarin oranges we won’t serve him any or we will serve hi a tiny piece and concentrate on the other food on his plate instead.  If you have more questions about this, I’ll be happy to answer but it’s more of a behavioral parenting challenge that happens to result in vomit than a vomit-related challenge.
  2. Recognize Immediate Warning Signs – Fevers, malaise, and other “sickly” behavior are the obvious things to look for.  The other thing we’ve learned to watch for – coughing.  Our kiddos always cough before vomiting.  Therefore, when I hear them start coughing (in situations where I think vomiting is probable), I immediately tell them to stop.  When it is a precursor to vomit (i.e., they’re making themselves do it), this is enough to avoid the vomit about 50-75% of the time.  If they’re truly coughing for normal coughing reasons that becomes quickly apparent and I help them with that as necessary.
  3. The Vomit Catcher – We have these ones, but these ones look like they might work.  Bibs you ask?  Why yes, they might appear to be bibs but in our family we actually call them vomit-catchers.  Though our motion-sick queen never needs one of these for actual meal-time, we keep these in the car and put one on her anytime we plan to drive further than the edge of our driveway.  That’s a small exaggeration, but not by much.  Finding a vomit-catcher that covers at least to the shoulders and has one of those catchy tray things is critical…this way no matter what direction she’s facing the car seat, her clothes and most importantly the car seat is covered and it catches the mess.  Also, make sure when you put it on it goes OVER the car-seat straps…the straps are the hardest to clean.  You can then pull over, wipe it out, wrap up the mess as you would a diaper, put the vomit-catcher right back on and keep going.  Quick Tip#1:  To make sure the little pouch stays open for when it’s needed, stick a few wipes in it…it will then stay open enough to catch something if needed.  Plus, then your kiddo has a napkin/wipe available if needed to wipe his/her nose as they get old enough.  
  4. Assemble a Mobile Vomit Relief Kit:
    1. Diaper Wipes
    2. Disposable Diaper Sacks
    3. Change of Clothes
    4. Bottle of Club Soda
    5. Bottle of Water
    6. Paper Towels or Dry, Bleachable Cloths
    7. Baking Soda (shake-able is best)
    8. Hand Towel
So, how genius is that vomit catcher idea?  Super smart lady!  Head back tomorrow to get all of Mie's vomit removal tips, as well as enter for a chance to will your own Mobile Vomit Relief Kit.  And don't forget to share this post on Facebook and Twitter using the buttons on the top of your screen.  What mom couldn't use this advice?

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