Hydration & Food When The Kids Are Sick
When children are sick, maintaining rehydration status becomes more important than making sure that they are eating well. They will have a decreased appetite, and may find it easier to drink, so opt for nutritious soups and drinks for them instead of solid foods. Here are some tips to follow:
Encourage your child to drink
If your child has a fever, a respiratory infection or a gastrointestinal illness with diarrhoea, it is important to stress fluids over solids to prevent dehydration. Focus on foods such as clear soups, but most importantly continue to breastfeed or offer formula if your child is still under 1 years of age. If your child is vomiting or suffering from diarrhoea it is recommended to add a form of rehydration fluid. You do not need to buy special rehydration fluids; sugar salt solution* is something you can make at home. Offer fluids to your child throughout the day, focusing on smaller amounts more frequently.
Serve up your child’s favourites
When your child is sick, certain foods will appeal to them while others won’t. Be respectful of your child’s likes and dislikes when their appetite is affected due to illness. If it needs to be breast milk and pears for 3 days, so be it. When your child is ill, it is not a good time for you to introduce new flavours.
Don’t pressure your child to eat
It will go against everything you think is right, but don’t force them to eat. Even if your child hasn’t eaten in 24 hours, the fast won’t last. As long as they are still drinking, your child will be okay. Once recovered, kids tend to become power eaters to make up for any loss of energy that occurred when they were sick.
If your child is vomiting, it is often a sign that their digestive system is irritated, so small volumes of easily digested liquids should be offered. If you are breastfeeding this will be the best option. Liquids should be given slowly and consistently in small volumes, with solid foods being avoided as this is harder to digest and can aggravate the stomach even more.
If, on the other hand, your child is suffering from diarrhoea, it may lead them to have difficultly digesting lactose in cow’s milk. If you are using formula, it is a good idea to use a lactose-free formula during this time and for a few days following diarrhoea. If you are breastfeeding, you may carry on.
When your child is sick, don’t allow them to drink a bottle lying down, as some of the milk may reflux up the ear tube.
For diarrhoea, rice and white bread toast are good. In terms of protein – lamb is a better option as well. Apples are best if you have cramps – grate it and leave it to go brown and then eat it
Remember always consult with your healthcare professional if you have any concerns or worries.
*sugar salt solution – 8 teaspoons of sugar, ½ teaspoon of salt, mixed with 1l of previously boiled cooled water.