Seeing your child sick is hard enough, but not being able to get him to eat while he gets better can be just as stressful. Every well-meaning parent wants to see their child eat a balanced meal – it’s how he stays healthy, right?
Actually, unless your child’s provider says otherwise, you probably don’t need to worry about this so much. For the most part, there are only a few things you need to keep in mind as your toddler fights his way back to good health.
Liquids, liquids, liquids
As your toddler recovers from being ill, you want to make sure you’re giving him enough liquids to prevent dehydration. Being sick makes your body lose fluids, and dehydration can prolong illness. It is ideal that he drink mostly water, milk and Pedialyte if he is vomiting. Just focus on giving your toddler small sips of liquid every few minutes. Another great way to get fluids into your child is by giving him chicken noodle soup; this provides the water, salt, and sugar that helps your child rehydrate faster. Homemade soup is ideal so you can control what’s in it, and if you buy it from the store, makes sure it’s not too salty or oily.
The BRAT diet
Despite its questionable name, the BRAT diet has been recommended for parents to serve their children when they have been having a hard time stomaching food for quite some time. The BRAT diet consists of four bland foods: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. If your child doesn’t seem to want foods that have a strong taste, try feeding them any or all of these four ‘safe’ foods. On the other hand, some research suggests that this diet is too limited, and that children do better eating their regular diet when they’re hungry as they recover.
If your child does better cutting back to a diet of more mild foods during illness, some modified version of the BRAT diet can be helpful, but if he seems to respond better to small amounts of the food he eats regularly, there’s no need to modify his diet.
Avoid giving your child foods that are spicy or caffeinated. If your child has diarrhea, it’s best to avoid giving him foods that are high in sugar or fat (like juice or fast foods), since these can make diarrhea worse.
Go by how he feels
Don’t make your toddler try to scarf down food if he is truly not hungry; it’s normal if he doesn&;t feel like eating right now. If he does want some food, go slow and feed him small portions of foods. After he has had something to eat, wait a little while before offering him food again.
Things to remember as your toddler starts feeling better: be patient, have him drink liquids often, and regularly check to see what your toddler can handle in terms of food. Contact the doctor or other healthcare provider if your toddler refuses liquids, exhibits warning signs of other illnesses, or if you just have any other questions about how to best care for him during this time.
Toby Amidor. “What to Feed a Child with a Stomach Bug.” USNews. US News & World Report, Oct 17 2014. Web.
“Feeling Sick.” CYH. Women’s and Children’s Health Network, Mon Feb 2016. Web.
Tamara Hargens-Bradley. “When kids get stomach bugs, preventing dehydration is priority No. 1.” OHSU. Oregon Health & Science University, Wed Jan 9 2013. Web.
Beth Wallace Smith, RD. “What to feed your child after a stomach virus.” Philly. Philadelphia Media Network LLC., Jan 28 2013. Web.