Parenting a Sicky Baby – Why it sucks and how to cope

Baby in a highchair wearing a bib to catch the spit up

My first baby was a sicky baby. He didn’t have reflux (although he did have colic) he was just sick on a far too regular basis. It varied between just a bit of “spit up” (what a lovely phrase that is!) to full blown projectile vomiting across the room. As he was my first baby, and I didn’t have much experience with babies, I just accepted it as normal and got on with it. It was only when I had my second, who was rarely sick, that I realised how much harder life is with a baby who is sick all the time. Here are my top 5 reasons why parenting a sicky baby sucks.

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1. You get Covered in sick

Obviously, if your baby is sick a lot, it’s inevitable that some will end up on you. Despite spending your life with a muslin draped over each shoulder, they will still get you. In addition to the places you would expect to get spit up on, I have had sick in my eye, ear and hair. I also ended up standing in sick on a regular basis This is because my baby liked to throw up over my shoulder without me noticing and then I would turn around and stand in it.


2. The Washing

We all know that babies, with their Poonamis, leaky nappies and dribble, create a ton of washing. If you have a sicky baby, you can pretty much double it. Top of the washing priority list are Muslins. The parent of any sicky baby knows, you’re basically screwed if you run out. The same goes for for bibs. You’ll get away with cleaning up a bit of spit up with a baby wipe but many of the day’s incidents will require a full change of clothes. This may be for both baby and parent, particularly if you want to have any hope of avoiding the next problem.


3. The Smell

While baby sick doesn’t smell as bad as adult sick (you have to wait until they’re about 5 for that joy), it does still smell pretty rank. It’s a sort of a sour milk, puts you off your dinner type of smell. No matter how much washing you do, you never seem to be able to totally get rid of it. You will find yourself going round sniffing things to try and find the source. Eventually you will conclude it must have worked it’s way into the fabric of your house and the only solution is to move.


4. No one wants to hold them

Everyone loves holding a baby right? Maybe yours not so much though. By the time you’ve finished elaborately covering their (lovely smelling) clothes with muslins they will be starting to have their doubts. When they’ve been sicked on 5 minutes later, they tend to hand the baby back pretty sharpish. Luckily grandparents tend to be the exception to this, for them grandchildren can do no wrong.


5. You will cry over spilt milk

Now this one is particularly true if you are breastfeeding but I imagine it’s still pretty bloody annoying if you bottle feed. You spend ages, sometimes hours in the early days, getting a feed down your baby in the (obviously vain) hope they will have a decent length sleep. If you are breastfeeding, this may even cause you a significant degree of discomfort, but you persevere. You sit baby up to burp them. Instead of a satisfied burp, that feed you’ve just worked so hard on goes shooting out of your baby’s mouth, across the room. You will cry, and it won’t be long before baby is crying again too.

Tips for parenting a sicky baby

1. Buy lots of muslins. Keep a supply in every room as well as one on your shoulder at all times. Provide one for anyone kind enough to hold your baby

2. Remember it will pass. You usually see a significant slow down once they start weaning and it’s mostly finished by the one year mark.

3. Car seat covers are a nightmare to wash to try and keep them covered with something thin like a muslin

4. Cut yourself some slack, it really isn’t the end of the world if your house isn’t pristine, or even anywhere near it.

5. If you can afford it, consider a laundry service or a cleaner

Having a sicky baby just seems to intensify some of the hardships of parenting, making everything that little bit harder. I’ve kept the tone of this post pretty lighthearted but I do really believe that having a sicky baby impacts on your experience as a parent. I’d love to know if anyone else has had a similar experience.

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Why parenting a sicky baby sucks - Image or baby in highchair wearing bib


  1. May 7, 2019 / 1:59 pm

    I can remember crying when I knocked over a freshly expressed pot of milk so I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to have a feed returned to you!

  2. Jo | My Anxious Life
    May 7, 2019 / 2:50 pm

    I was lucky that neither of mine were very sticky, but one of our friends second daughter had dreadful reflux and it was so stressful. All the doctors appointments, different kinds of milk and medications… She and her partner were getting married in Mexico and they genuinely considered cancelling the wedding because they didn’t think the baby would cope, especially in heat. Awful.

  3. May 8, 2019 / 8:41 pm

    I am totally with you on the last one! My daughter was sicky but I thought we’d got away with it this time round – until we started solids. Some foods just do not agree with him so he sends his last feed plus the offending food shooting like a fountain out of him, usually all over me. Grim. And then he’s hungry but there’s no milk left… #ItsOK my sister was sicky and she eventually grew out of it, in her teens D:

  4. May 8, 2019 / 9:51 pm

    Both the twins were colicky and would throw up entire bottles at a time. They were basically like ticking time bombs on who would do it first, and who you could get to – feeding them both at the same time and then waiting! #ItsOK

  5. May 9, 2019 / 2:36 am

    Thankfully none of my kids were too bad with that. The first two months or so did involve a lot of spit-ups but not beyond that. But you are so right, the smell is nothing compared with when they get older 😂

  6. May 9, 2019 / 5:55 am

    Brilliant post! I love number 3 – The Smell! I’m a great one for wandering around following my nose to identify an unwanted smell!

  7. May 9, 2019 / 8:41 pm

    It’s really hard when babies are sick often, my youngest was.he has grown out of it but I remember those first few months tough!

  8. May 13, 2019 / 8:46 pm

    Any sort of sick baby is well, a tough job looking after. If it’s a cold, you’re invariably covered in snot at some point. If it’s a cough, you can literally see the germs flying into your face (cover your mouth, child!) and if it’s puke or a tummy bug, well, it’s all of the above. Hard work! Thanks for linking up with #itsok

  9. May 13, 2019 / 8:48 pm

    I am so lucky that neither of mine were sicky babies but I will never forget that smell of regurgitated milk! My two and a half year old daughter spat up milk all over my dressing gown a few days ago because she had a horrible chesty cough and even now after putting it through the machine I can still smell the dried milk off it. You’re right, it’s almost impossible to get the smell out!

  10. May 14, 2019 / 8:56 pm

    I’m a work-at-home mum too & currently nursing a four-year-old with chicken pox so can totally relate to this post! #itsok

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