A few weeks ago, we were forced to go on an eight hour road trip to Ottawa with our 10.5 month old baby. I say forced, because we were going to see two specialists as part of Calvin’s routine follow-up for his condition. We waited months for these appointments, it’s not like we could reschedule. Of course, the night before we were leaving, Calvin got sick with some sort of stomach bug. Looking back, we’re pretty sure he caught it from a Wal-Mart shopping cart. He woke up at 1130 pm vomiting and we were up with him until 2 am giving him a bath and comforting him until we could get him back to sleep. He woke up again at 5 am so we hit the road at that time. This was the original plan, as we hoped he would sleep part of the way. He did sleep for a little while, but then he barfed, all over himself and his car seat. We stopped and cleaned everything up as best we could then continued our journey. It was an awful drive for all of us. We arrived in Ottawa around 2 pm and settled into our hotel. There was more puking that night. The diarrhea started the next day, and that’s when he saw the specialists. We stayed with family the second night and that’s when my husband and I started having symptoms. We were so grateful that they took us in, but puking in anyone’s house other than your own is no fun. We drove part way home the next day (four hours) since that’s all we had the energy for, and finished the journey on the fourth day. By then, Calvin was pretty well back to normal, but my husband and I were still tired and nauseous. Worst. Trip. Ever. So here are my tips to you if you are ever forced into travelling, specifically road-tripping, with a sick baby.
- Don’t. I’m serious. If there is any way, shape, or form that you can reschedule the trip, do it. It’s not going to be enjoyable, no one is going to have fun. Just stay home. But if you can’t:
- Stock up on absorbent items. We brought every receiving blanket we owned and a few bibs and still didn’t have enough material to clean up all the puke and poop. We ended up buying wash cloths. If we could do it all over again, I would bring a stack of facecloths and towels.
- Put a bib on that baby. Your baby is most likely going to throw up in the car and trust me, cleaning a car seat is no fun. Put a giant bib on your baby during the ride and cover them with a receiving blanket. Put more receiving blankets over the sides of the car seat.
- Have someone sit in the back. They will act as a puke-catcher, comfort-person, sippy-cup provider, and entertainer.
- Pack grocery bags to act as garbages and laundry for the disgusting clothes and towels.
- Bring about 100 disinfectant wipes. They are useful to clean the car seat and any other surface that comes in contact with the nasties that are coming out of both ends.
- Put a cloth diaper cover over a disposable to avoid diarrhea blow outs. I realize not everyone has a cloth diaper cover, but if you do, this works like a charm.
- Pack a shit ton of clothes (no pun intended).
- Pack a container of laundry detergent. This will allow you to do small loads in a hotel sink or bathtub if necessary. Or, you can use the hotel provided laundry facilities. If you’re really lucky, you will have family where you’re going that will let use their laundry room, which was the case for us, but just make sure to be super careful not to spread your germs at their place.
- If you have it, pack an extra pack-n-play or crib sheet.
- Pack hand sanitizer. It can be hard to wash your hands properly while on the road, and baby wipes aren’t enough to kill the germs causing the illness. If we would have started using it sooner, maybe we could have avoided also getting sick.
- Pick up an oral rehydration solution. This is the most important point. It’s ok for the baby to go without solid food for a few days but hydration is essential. A solution like Pedialyte has the perfect amount of sugars, salts, and water to replace the fluids lost. Offer baby small amounts frequently. If you’re breastfeeding, offer shorter nursing sessions more frequently, and if bottle feeding, offer less formula more often.
- If you notice any signs of dehydration, or if you’re worried, call your doctor or go get baby checked. Babies get dehydrated quickly. You won’t regret bringing them in, but you may regret it if you don’t. At the very least, you’ll get some reassurance that everything is fine.
For more information about how to care for your sick baby at home (or on the road in this case), how to make sure baby stays hydrated, how to recognize the signs of dehydration, and when to call your doctor, visit this webpage.