Our Nighttime Set-Up for Sick Toddlers

Unfortunately, my Little Mouse got a hold of a roll at Thanksgiving that wasn't intended to be on his menu. 

With his animal milk protein intolerance, we have to be very careful that there isn't even a TRACE of milk in his food, whether it's an ingredient baked into something, an additive, or straight-up dairy products. After an afternoon of worrying my guts out (I know the Bible says not to, but...Moms will be Moms...), he started getting the sniffles; the first sign of a reaction. Then, what had started as the sniffles morphed into something far worse in a matter of minutes. So instead of enjoying our post-Thanksgiving food hangover the evening after the festivities, we were up all night rocking and singing, wiping snot, and mopping up buckets of toddler puke.

At the first sign of cramping and discomfort, I wasn't about to mess around. Before we headed to bed, I got all my sick supplies and prepared for a night of terror. 
Okay, okay, I know: 16-month-olds cannot aim their projectiles. But I sure as heck can try to catch it! I don't know if all kids are this way, but Little Mouse has a tell when he's about to puke. He gets very still, gags a little, heaves once, and then out comes the real deal. So if I grab the puke bucket - in our case an old, large yogurt container - by that first little gag, I still have one heave to get it in position under his bobbing head before he erupts. 

LAYER THAT SUCKER UP! You can use waterproof mattress pads, a layer of fleece fabric, or even pet pee-pee pads (I wouldn't...but you could!) The idea is the same: Use alternating layers of a fitted sheet over a waterproof fabric in order to block the bodily fluids from the clean layer of sheets beneath. That way, if Mount Vesuvius blows at 2am all over the bed sheets, you're not scrambling for fresh linens and making the bed in a tired stupor. 

Our set-up went like this [we bed share with a twin floor his toddler day bed side-carred beside our queen floor mattress]:
( Layer 1: ) Folded sheet tucked firmly between wall & our mattress over a toddler-sized waterproof pad.
( Layer 2: ) Another folded sheet like the first, over a slightly smaller waterproof pad.
( Layer 3: ) Fitted sheet over the smallest waterproof pad in the pack. 

And underneath that was the mattress pad. Then our bed was layered with several fleece blankets that we could strip off as needed. So when he spewed, all we had to do is pull off the soiled layer and throw it in the...

That way, in the morning, all the stinky stuff is in one place to treat and launder. And because the basket is lined with a plastic garbage bag, there's no surprise puddles or dripping.

Not just for the obvious mess clean-up, though! We also used these so we would have fresh, cool rags on hand to place on Little Mouse's poor, hot head (crying your guts out is sweaty, exhausting work). I remember how good it felt when I was little and sick to have my Mom lovingly place a cool washcloth on my head and sing softly. I can only hope it gave Little Mouse the same kind of comfort.

We usually don't sleep with a night light for a whole slew of reasons (not to mention Little Mouse just sleeps better without one), but we make a special exception for times of sickness. Mostly out of necessity, but also so Little Mouse can easily find his loveys. Which brings me to #6...

6) LOVEYS (not in place of us, but in addition to us)
We've always incorporated a round of saying "Goodnight" to his stuffed toys in his bedtime routine. It is SUCH a cute little ritual and actually, not at all purposely, has really made him fall in love with a few of them! His tiger "Stripes" is his best friend at the moment. He drags that thing EVERYWHERE. And when I had to do something unpleasant, like administer medicine (Elderberry syrup is apparently not our favorite) or use a little saline spray to help break up those thick snots, we always did it to Stripes first, then to Little Mouse. Seeing it acted out beforehand and allowing Little Mouse to role play as the caregiver to Stripes and care for him the way he saw Mommy and Daddy do it helped to process what can often be an unpleasant situation.

So Stripes is a constant companion in our bed at night, but while he was feeling icky, we let him take a few more to bed with him. He chose a giant Kangaroo, "Karoo"; his stuffed Lion, "Lana"; and a small, plastic basketball. When he would wake at night, in the midst of his tears, sometimes he would whimper a name and I'd find the friend, then cuddle up with him and his loveys of choice. Having Mommy AND a friend there seemed to give him extra comfort.

The Nose Frida is awesome. AWESOME. I PROMISE you it is not at all gross. SERIOUSLY. It is SO MUCH better than those stupid bulb syringes and doesn't build up mold. If you have kids who can't yet blow their noses on their own, DON'T THINK. JUST GET ONE.

We use Simply Saline Baby nasal mist to help break up the thick, thick snots. If you are breastfeeding, you can also squirt a little breast milk in the nose, as it has antimicrobial properties to boot. But my toddler won't sit still long enough for a maneuver like that. So saline it is.
Boogie Wipes are the Cadillac of facial tissues. Move over Puffs. A nose in need deserves soft, gentle, lightly dampened, sometimes-scented Boogie Wipes.

Again, to help overnight with the aforementioned thick, thick snots.

I know, I know, nothing quite compares to Mommy's Milk! But he was having such a hard time nursing at one point, and really needed something to drink. He was frustrated, I was frustrated, and in the end, I was thankful we had some on hand to offer to him in a cup. Plus, he never gets juice, so this was a nice little "treat" for him when he was feeling at his worst.

So that's it! Our nighttime set-up for a sickie toddler. Thankfully we only had two nights of this "extreme" routine before going back to our old, one-lovey, no-nightlight set-up. He's still not feeling 100%, as his gut and immune system needs a lot of time to heal from the reaction, but we're getting there slowly but surely.

What do you do when your kiddos are illin'? Is there anything I left out that you would recommend? Join the discussion in the comments!

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  1. Nose Frieda is AMAZING!!!! I've become a huge fan of essential oils and rub Belle down like a greased pig at the first sign of sickness. The LT refers to it as "hippy dippy" medicine but it works and even he uses them. P.S. Sick toddlers are THE WORST. Babies at least can't move, and older children can explain how they feel but toddlers are in between in a never never land of sorts.

    1. Oh, I totally forgot to mention essential oils! We were dealing with an intolerance this time and not an actual illness, so that didn't even cross my mind. Good suggestion, and I love that your DH calls it "HIPPY DIPPY!" HA! Hilarious! We use Thieves all through the winter on all three of us, and use different oils before bedtime, too. Love our EOs.

      Does B sign at all? Little Mouse signs and it can help us determine what's going on sometimes...that is, when he's awake enough to communicate. He'll sign "hurt" over where he's hurting or sign "cold." We haven't taught him the sign for "lonely" or "I just want to cuddle", but about half the time, that's all it is at night. (LOL)