Nasty Norovirus!

Dear Mamas,

Our little one is 7 months old and has been down with an awful tummy bug for several days now. It started out with a few episodes of vomiting, then the next day he started having runny poops several times a day. Through it all he was pretty cheerful and still eating okay, but whenever he went it was very loose, and every now and then he would vomit (usually all over our bed!). He’s also developed an ugly red diaper rash from all that pooping — it looks like raw meat!

Yesterday we took him to his doctor, and she suggested we switch to soy formula until the virus runs its course because it’s easier on the digestion. She said it may take a few days, but as long as he’s staying hydrated and acting like himself it’s safe to just let it pass and keep using Desitin and Nystatin on the diaper rash.

Within 15 minutes after the first bottle of soy he vomited it all up, and it was different from the vomiting before – much more forceful. He kept vomiting afterwards every few minutes, even when there was nothing in his stomach, and since then he’s not so cheerful anymore. Plus, the diaper rash just keeps getting worse. Help! What do I do now?


Dear Carly,

This must be frustrating (and maybe a little scary) for you. It’s so hard to stand by when our babies are sick and there isn’t much we can do to make them better. And then there’s the clean-up challenge.

Sounds like your guy has a classic case of nasty norovirus. That’s the bug famous for felling entire cruise ships, and it’s been all the rage this winter among the younger set. It can be unpredictable, seeming to get better and then worse again over several days to a week. Just when you think it’s better … blecchhh … all over those freshly laundered sheets.

To add to the problem, the nasty output at the south end has scorched the skin on his little butt – OUCH — and your doc’s suggestion to try some soy to soothe his belly has backfired, big time. So let’s try to remedy each of these problems one at a time.

First, toss the soy formula. For whatever reason it doesn’t agree with him. His little GI tract is saying ‘NO’ loudly. Try flushing it out of his system with some Pedialyte or other children’s electrolyte solution. It will keep him hydrated and wash the soy through. Once he’s keeping small volumes of the solution down it’s fine to go back to his usual formula as long as he was doing well with it before. If he’s already taking solids you can offer a bland BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast).

Next, soothe his sore tushy with a diaper cream brand called Butt Paste (available at Target and other fine stores). The mother of all diaper creams, it acts as an impenetrable barrier between harsh stool and inflamed skin. It’s miracle stuff. You’ll see a huge difference in 24 hours.

Then just wait it out. This, too, shall pass, and even though it seems to take forever, your little guy will be his perky drooling self in no time.

That said, as always, trust your mommy gut. If things aren’t getting better as expected get thee back to the doctor. A common mistake moms make is worrying that they’re being annoying if a child has already been seen and the doc wasn’t too concerned. But things change and little ones can go downhill fast: never second guess your need for a second look.

Good Luck!

~ The Mamas

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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