When your toddler falls ill, it can undoubtedly be a challenging and stressful time, a situation I’ve personally navigated countless times as a mom of three.
One of the most crucial aspects to focus on during these trying moments is ensuring your little one receives the proper nutrition they need to recover swiftly! Like YESTERDAY am I right?
Feeding a sick toddler can present its own set of challenges—often, they’ll have a diminished appetite, difficulty swallowing, or other discomforts. A lot of sick kids can’t handle solid foods and fatty foods so your only options may be cold liquids.
The important thing to remember when caring for sick children is to work on strengthening the child’s immune system and providing foods with high water content.
This article is not intended to replace medical advice. Always contact your health care provider with questions or concerns regarding your child’s health.
Best foods for a sick toddler
When a toddler isn’t feeling their best, it becomes crucial to select foods that are gentle on their sensitive stomachs while providing the necessary support for their immune system. Here are some of the top choices for nourishing a sick toddler:
Bland foods, such as plain pasta, applesauce, and chicken noodle soup, prove soothing and easily digestible when a child is grappling with nausea or an upset stomach. They are also very easy to make, so you can spend time with your toddler instead of slaving away in the kitchen.
High-water-content fruits, including oranges and sweet potatoes, serve a dual purpose by keeping the child hydrated while offering essential immune-boosting nutrients, especially vitamin A found in sweet potatoes. I like to offer mashed sweet potato, as it is easy to eat!
Foods known for their anti-inflammatory properties, such as warm tea and ginger ale, offer comfort and relief for sore throats while reducing inflammation – if you child can tolerate having a cup of tea. If not, you can try warm milk with honey instead.
Fluids for a sick toddler
When your little one falls sick, ensuring they stay well-hydrated is paramount to support their recovery and prevent dehydration—a situation I’ve encountered countless times as a mom of three. Here are some fluids I’ve found beneficial for my sick toddlers:
- Oral rehydration solution: This balanced mix of sugar and electrolytes works wonders for children with diarrhea or vomiting, and you can find it at most drug stores, often in various flavors.
- Water: Encouraging your child to sip on plain water throughout the day is a simple yet effective way to keep them hydrated, especially if they’re running a fever.
- Fruit juice: When dealing with a sore throat or a stuffy nose, fruit juice can help soothe their discomfort. Opt for 100% juice and dilute it with water to keep sugar intake in check.
- Electrolyte solutions: These solutions, available in different flavors, are similar to oral rehydration solutions and are handy for kids who might not be drinking enough water or are losing fluids due to illness.
- Milk: If your toddler isn’t lactose intolerant, milk can provide both hydration and nutrition. However, it’s best to skip milk if they have diarrhea or vomiting.
- Soup: Classic chicken soup is a go-to remedy—it’s easy to digest, rich in electrolytes and nutrients, and can help bolster their immune system. Other simple soups like vegetable or noodle soup are also beneficial.
- Ice pops: These frozen treats can entice a sick toddler to hydrate, and I’ve found ice pops made with 100% fruit juice and low sugar to be particularly appealing. I even use these popsicle molds for my little ones.
How To Feed Your Toddler When They Don’t Want To Eat
Feeding a sick toddler requires thoughtful strategies, especially when dealing with issues like a stomach bug or during flu season. this becomes even more challenging if your little kids experience picky eating on a regular basis.
The most crucial thing to remember is to offer small, frequent meals to accommodate their little appetite. Incorporating foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, can boost their immune system – as long as there is not a food allergy to citrus juices. For babies under 6 months, breast milk remains the primary source of nutrition.
Encouraging them to sip on fluids, like high-water-content apple juice or water, during snack times is essential, particularly if they have a high temperature.
To prevent dehydration, it’s vital to ensure they have wet diapers and consume lots of fluids, even if in smaller portions. Introducing new foods during illness can be challenging, but offering their favorite foods can be good news.
For older toddlers, nutritious foods from their regular diet should be included. However, avoid sports drinks and prioritize rest for your little one.
Utilizing a sippy cup or medicine dropper can make it easier for younger kids to drink, especially if they’re experiencing a release of mucus or a high temperature.
Remember, feeding a sick toddler is all about providing comfort, nourishment, and plenty of rest during these challenging moments.
Signs of dehydration and when to seek medical advice
Dehydration is a common concern when a child is sick, especially when they are vomiting or have diarrhea. It’s important to know the signs of dehydration and when to seek medical advice. The best way to prevent dehydration is to encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids. For young children, oral rehydration solution is often the best thing to give them when they are sick. Here are some signs of dehydration to look out for:
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Few or no tears when crying
- Sunken eyes or cheeks
- Dark yellow urine, or no urine output for more than 8 hours
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Irritability or fussiness
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
If your child is showing signs of dehydration, it’s important to seek medical advice as soon as possible. This is especially true for infants, young children, and anyone with a weakened immune system. In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary to treat severe dehydration.
In addition to pushing fluids, offering simple foods like the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) can be a good idea when a child is experiencing vomiting or diarrhea. For older kids, it’s important to encourage them to eat healthy foods and maintain a normal diet as much as possible.
If your child has a high fever or is experiencing difficulty breathing, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. A health visitor or your child’s doctor can provide guidance on the best choices for fluids and foods during illness, as well as when to seek medical advice. It’s always a good idea to have an open dialogue with your child about how they are feeling and to encourage them to taste food and drinks to prevent dehydration.