Taking care of sick kids is no fun!
From the common cold, to ear infections, fevers, sore throats, and upset tummies, little ones can get sick often. Because young children's immune systems don't fully develop until they're age seven or eight, they're especially sensitive and susceptible to sickness when they are going to child care or school each day.
Nutrition plays a critical role in ensuring children stay hydrated and fueled, and certain foods may even help speed up their recovery. Ultimately, the goal is to get children back on their feet and feeling better, faster.
Here are some great foods to feed your kids when they are sick:
Fluids: Above all else, hydration is most important when your child has an acute illness. Babies who are sick may only want to nurse or drink from a bottle, and that's okay. Sick toddlers and children may not have a huge appetite, but it's critical for them to continue drinking fluids such as water, breast milk (if applicable), coconut water, or oral rehydration solutions like Kinderlyte to get better and prevent dehydration. If you are worried about the status of your child's hydration, talk to your provider.
Broth/Soup: Broth and soup can feel good on a sore throat or upset stomach while offering hydration and fluids. Bone broth is an especially good source of protein and can help when your child is okay sipping liquids but doesn't want much else.
Juicy Fruits or Veggies: As you can tell, hydration is key! Sometimes fruits and vegetables can provide that fluid if your child isn't comfortable drinking much. If your child has an upset stomach or gastrointestinal bug, start with very bland fruits like banana and applesauce first to see if they can tolerate them, then move on to other fruits and vegetables as they are able to keep them down.
Popsicles or Smoothies: When kids have congestion, a cough, or a scratchy throat, sometimes all they want are cold, smooth foods. Popsicles (either homemade or store-bought) and smoothies can be soothing while offering more fluid and nutrients. Here are some recipes for popsicles that are kid-friendly and easy to make.
Their Regular Diet: You know how certain foods sound good when you're sick? Same goes for your child, so don't be surprised if they get a little particular for a few days. Illness can change their appetite and taste preferences, and it can take some time for them to get back to their usual selves. Experts often recommend feeding your kids what they're willing to eat when they're sick, and practicing plenty of patience and grace for them as their little bodies recover.
With any illness, it's important you talk to your provider for medical advice, but we hope these tips will help your little one start feeling better soon!