Coping with sick multiples

One of the more startling realities for me as a mother is the fact that colds can cause a baby or toddler to vomit. I never knew this, of course, and when my daughters were in day care from 4 months to 10 months, we had our share of colds, vomiting episodes and sleepless nights.

Ultimately, between that and the high cost of two infants in day care, I quit working.

But in less than two weeks, I will return to work, and my daughters, now 2.5, will return to day care.

This week, we are facing the music, again. One has a cold. She is the vomiter. She is the bad sleeper because a single drip of the nose means we have to wipe it for her — with a new tissue, not an old one.

I’ve come a very long way since those early months of two infants with colds. I know how to clean up vomit (quickly as possible, especially when it’s on carpet or else it will turn moldy) and how to effectively prevent as much night-time stuffiness as possible.

I can’t think of anything harder for parents of multiples than when their kids are sick either at the same time or consecutively.

Here’s how we cope but please offer your own ways in the comments:

THE COLD REMEDIES: Since kids this age can’t take any medications and studies are proving time and again that those medications do not work anyway, what’s a family who needs sleep do? Vicks Vapor bath, saline drops and dehumidifiers are the best solution. First, the bath in a nice warm, steamy room, if possible, then the drops. Let the drops sit back in the nose as long as possible while the baby is laying down. I know, harder than it sounds. Then, run the dehumidifier. We have found that chronic vomiting is only worsened by suctioning out the nose, but we do do that when their bellies are empty, like after a nap.

TAKE TURNS: I can’t imagine having a husband who feels that his out-of-the-house job is so hard that he can’t possibly miss an hour or two of sleep. In our house, since Day One, we’ve taken turns with night wake-ups realizing that both jobs’ are hard.

LET GO OF THE RULES: As the girls have gotten older, we’ve turned sick days into times to lay around, watch movies and play quietly together. Pillows, blankets and snuggling all day, in every room. As infants, we would just put them in the car for day trips to help them nap since crib sleeping was nearly impossible.

GO WITH THE FLOW: It’s not easy when one wants to nap and the other doesn’t. Those kinds of days call for easy-going parenting — the kind where you just bring a stack of magazines to the couch and plan for that being your day’s to-do list. Practice finding ways to get your toddler or two looking for fun, inspirational pictures in those magazines. Have them put stickers on your body as you lay down and rest your eyes. Find unconventional ways to pass the long hours of no breaks with easy, relaxing fun.

KNOW IT’S A PHASE: There is usually a lot of crying when multiples get sick. That’s when I have to remind myself that this is just temporary; it’s just a few days out of our life together. It won’t always be like this. Like most things, it’s just a phase. Relax. Breathe.

Oh, and go to bed early during this phase. How about you? Any sick days coping mechanisms to pass along?

9 thoughts on “Coping with sick multiples

  1. Oh, how timely! :-) Both of my kids are getting over some virus right now. Both crabby, sore throats mean mealtimes are tricky, and they’re both screaming instead of napping right now. Between that and everything else that’s been going on in our household, today’s coping strategy is to put them upstairs for their nap and turn off my monitor. I know they’re fine, and the screaming is making me batty, so that’s for today.

    Oh, wait, that has nothing to do with making my kids feel better. Shoot. Poor kiddos…

  2. I throw out all hopes of balanced meals when my kids have colds or are vomiting (or both). We eat lots and lots and lots of dry cereal, drink lots of fluids–whatever they’ll take and get down, and have random meal/snack times. I also turn on a big box fan during naptime and hope that one of the three (twins and a slightly older sibling) will get some rest during naptime if the other(s) wake up and fuss.

  3. I live by vicks baby rub. Put it on their chest, back, feet(not sure this works, but it’s worth a try), and a dab on the nose. I also found the vicks plug in’s or the new cool battery operated ones that blow vicks through out the room are AWESOME! I live by those. I’ve probably gone through cases of the AAA batteries for the darn thing…but it’s worth the money. We use a cool mist humidifier…my dr. always said a warm one is bad…but i think it all depends on where you live. Also, NO MILK, while a child is sick…makes for some NASTY smelly vomit and it truly upsets their stomachs. I cut off the twins and give them soy milk instead. My 4 year old is a BIG puker…the minute she gets a cough she pukes…i make sure to prop her up and lay beach towels underneath for easy cleaning.

    Also, if they get a virus and can’t keep anything down..only use tiny bits of water every 10-15 minutes. Don’t let them drink too much at once.

  4. I love the vics plug-ins!

    My kids like to get sick one after the other and it is always in the same order. The barfy one always gets sick 2nd for some reason.

  5. I hope your little one feels better!

    Taking turns wasn’t an option for us when my girls had RSV last winter. (My husband was in Iraq.) My neighbours are always willing to help, but the last thing I wanted to do was expose their toddlers to the virus.

    My saving grace was just holding my daughters. It comforted them, and feeling them breathe, even with all the wheezing, reminded me why I was going 2 weeks on so little sleep.

    Having a pediatrician who I trust and always goes the extra mile was also indispensable. It’s worth shopping around for a great doctor; when your little ones are sick, “good” just doesn’t cut it. I’ve also found that a doctor’s office that’s used to dealing with multiples is a huge asset. Most of my Mom of Multiples group uses the same pedi because
    1) Every single staff member learns to tell multiples apart on Day 1 (and I mean literally, Day 1!).
    2) One of the nurses is always by to offer an extra pair of arms or distraction.
    3) The doctors know to let both (or all) of the kids know what’s going on with their sibling in terms they understand.
    4) They have Saturday hours.
    5) Their after-hours phone service is exemplary.
    6) They always make sibling appointments back to back with the same doctor.
    7) They have experience with preemies.

  6. Oh, this was perfect timing all 3 of my girls are just now finally over their “BUG”, unfortunately my biggest baby aka Daddy just caugth the bug. “Sorry honey mommy is done dealing with sickness, you’re on your own. I love you but that’s where it ends.”

  7. Sick babies are the worst!! I always let mine sleep wherever—the swing works? Fine! Who cares. And, infant Tylenol—a godsend.

  8. Olbas oil is excellent – and seems to last longer than Vicks. A drop on a tissue tucked into the sheet or pillow, or even on the shoulder seam of pyjamas or a sleepsuit, is excellent for keeping the nose clear.

    Elevate the head of the cot / bed by a couple of inches using paperbacks to keep the draining of mucus going.

    In Britain we are able to get infant paracetamol suspension which, used carefully, will alleviate cold secondary symptoms and feverishness, plus acting as a gentle sleep aid. Not something to use every day, but it can get them over the worst. Particularly if you have two to manage.

    Dioralyte rehydration salts plus rice flour is an excellent rehydrant for post sicky / squitty episodes and helps to settle and calm the stomach.

    I don’t like drugs used on children over-much, but if you’re at your wit’s end these may help!

    Blessings.

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