Is the kid going to throw up? “Read” his lips.

Hopefully the usefulness of Michelle's hack will make up for my horrendous wordplay in the title:

Like a lot of your contributors, this didn't really dawn on me until recently to be something that might not have occurred to others:

When my kids are sick, a tell-tale sign that they're going to barf is when their lips lose all colour. If they're complaining of an upset stomach or some other malady but their lips are bright red, I can usually ease back & look for the ginger-ale or other stomach-calming solutions. If their lips are pale and thin, I run (don't walk) for the bucket. If I ask them directly, they are usually in denial about throwing up (much like myself when I'm sick! "if I just lie still for a while…")

Ha! With my kids, the tell-tale sign is a pale face and sudden dark circles under the eyes.

More: Best of Parent Hacks: Cold and flu season tips

Related: Another reason to take Ziplocs on your road trips


  1. Candy Apple says

    If it some sort of stomach flu, our kids will get very sleepy just before a round of vomit. So, we take that look of being just about to pass out as a cue to get the bucket ready because next they are going to do is sit bolt upright and get sick all over.

  2. Andrea says

    I learned this one when I worked at a preschool—that was the first time I’ve seen someone literally turn green.

  3. Rose says

    How timely! I opened my computer to see this post in between boughts of throw up and cleaning up throw up. This is my oldest daughter’s first time with the flu, so I am now watching those lips! I tried to search for more throw up hacks, I know they are there, but didn’t come up with anything. Suggestions?

  4. Soni says


    This is less a throw-up hack than a preventative, but have you tried giving candied ginger to chew/suck on to help with nausea? It’s a tad strong for some kids, but others like it. Might start with little bits – even if they can’t bear to swallow anything, they can chew it and suck on it. Takes just a few minutes to work, if it’s going to.

    Ginger tea works also, made with boiling water and honey over grated fresh ginger (steep for about 10 minutes before straining for full strength (and to cool it).

  5. Parent Hacks Editor says

    Rose: I searched for past throwup hacks myself and came up with very little (ha! A vomit pun!) (Sorry.) (You people should know by now that I love puns.)

    Throwup hacks? Vomit hacks? Barf hacks? Yack hacks? Anyone?

  6. Rose says

    Oh, he, ha! That was funny!

    I remembered seeing some back when I didn’t need the hack… oh well, we’ve moved onto the other end of things, if you catch my drift.

    Soni, thanks! I had forgotten about that. And thankfully, I know Teeny likes candied ginger. Someone gave me some while pregnant and while I can’t stand it, she liked it so much she didn’t wait for me to get the last piece out of the zip loc bag. Oops.

  7. kayla says

    very good blog i agree with that our son has a nisen fundoplication so he has to work extra hard to get anything up but he gets that look on his face and when he starts wreching watch out cause soon something is going to come up.

  8. HollyRhea says

    Swallowing a lot is usually an immediate precursor to the vomiting. I remember that from my own experience throwing up all over the school nurse’s desk. She knew it was coming because I kept swallowing while trying to talk. And I’ve seen it in my own kids, too.

  9. Kimberly C says

    Oh, my daughter made this funny little coughing noise and then swallowed a bit- she was 9 months old with her first bout of the stomach bug, thankfully we haven’t had it since (knock wood) and she is 2 now…

  10. Kim Suzanne says

    Some upset stomach tips and prevention (also works for travel sickness)

    1. Cold – ice cubes or cold air for some reason helps to knock the reflex back. I wrap a few ice cubes in a towel and place it on their wrist or back of neck or forehead. A plus with this is you have a damp cloth ready to clean with if they do throw up.

    2. Holding the wrist – loosely, not strenuously, not cutting off any circulation. Make sure your grip or your child’s grip is VERY gentle on the inside of the wrist. It only takes one wrist, does not have to be both wrists. Travel sickness bands around the wrists have the idea, but, personally, I find they don’t work.

    3. Peppermint tea (with honey for sweetening and a little bit of milk to cool the tea down) is even better than ginger ale. Sometimes just breathing in the tea awakens, refreshes and relaxes the stomach.

    4. Or peppermint mints, like LifeSavers or Tic Tacs, when they are older (so they don’t choke).

    5. Sitting up or changing elevation or positions sometimes triggers upset stomachs or the violent projectile vomiting. I always encourage peaceful rest.

    I’ve been able to cure my husband of travel sickness with these tips and, well, I am not going to tempt fate.

  11. says

    I’ve had a lifelong experience with having a weak stomach. My child however, was blessed he is 19, and only has been sick once in his life. I do have some old remedies that aways worked for me

    When I was a child my grandma would put a cold compress with some ice on my throat.usually if I fell asleep with the compass on my throat, I never got sick for the rest of the night.

    My doctor said to stay away from anything mint flavored because of acidity, but not a mint leaf. crush ice in ice cold water with 1 mint leaf may be a little soothing. I drank this also when I was in labor, so I wouldn’t throw up during delivery. Very soothing.

    A paramedic once told me to drink peach juice, thst they use this in some cases for severe stomach issues. I tred it, and surprisingly it worked. (Just peach juice from a can)

    Tea is my favorite thing to drink, but I never recommend it if I feel like I need to vomit. The idea is to cool everything down, not heat it up.

    Ice chips have always worked for me in the past, plus sitting outside and getting some fresh air. Staring at the tv, computer, or your ceiling can make it worse. Most of the time I sit outside on my porch and chew on some ice chips. It’s a miserable feeling for anyone to feel nausea. I’ve battled with the issue my entire life.