Nutrition tips for sick kids! What to do when your sick baby won’t eat? What to feed a sick child.
When we first became parents, it would have been nice to have a warning about just how much kids tend to get sick in those early years.
Did you know that babies can have upwards of 8-10 colds per year as their little immune systems develop? This is different for each kid, of course, and depends on many factors — but that doesn’t make having a sick babe any easier
As any parent or caregiver knows, appetite and food preferences can change drastically when kids are sick.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you have a sick child, plus some tips for helping your babe continue to get the nutrients they need when they’re not feeling 100%.
Handling Appetite Changes
Your child may be super interested in a big plate of noodles one day, and then get sick the next and barely finish a popsicle.
This can feel worrisome, but we often do the same thing as adults.
Smaller appetites are usually okay in the short term. When your child isn’t interested in solids, focus on fluids to reduce the risk of dehydration, especially with any vomiting or diarrhea.
Infants will likely want to nurse or take bottles over solid foods. Watch for wet diapers to ensure they are getting enough.
For toddlers and older kids, continue to focus on nutrition where possible, but also know appetite and food preferences will likely change.
It’s okay if your babe prefers little food, bland food, or comfort foods right now. Think foods like bananas, toast, and applesauce.
Soothing Sore Throats
For sore throats— popsicles, smoothies, and yogurt may feel good. We love freezing leftover smoothies as popsicles!
Plus, popsicles and smoothies also offer fluids, particularly if they’re made with fruits and veggies.
Here are a few recipes you can try:
Regular water remains the best option for kids even when they’re sick. Kids can become dehydrated more quickly than adults when they’re not only not drinking fluids, but also have diarrhea or are throwing up.
Fruit juice, like apple or orange juice, tends to be higher in fructose and sorbitol which can make diarrhea worse. If your child doesn’t want regular water and needs fluids, you can dilute fruit juice with water to give them a little more flavor with their fluids.
Signs of dehydration include dry lips, dry mouth, few wet diapers or toilet trips, and a decline in energy. We recommend speaking with your pediatrician if you are concerned.
Supporting Natural Immunity
What about focusing on “immune-boosting foods?” Is this a real thing?
Some micronutrients – like zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin C – show some promise in shortening the duration of a common cold, but not necessarily prevention.
There are some studies that show a benefit in zinc supplementation in kids, but we don’t currently recommend zinc supplementation and instead recommend focusing on food sources: legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Those are our nutrition tips for sick kids! If you’ve been wondering what to do when your sick baby won’t eat, give some of these approaches a try. Share this post with other mamas who may be asking what to feed a sick child.
Chime In: What works for your child when they’re not feeling well?
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