What To Feed A Sick Kid

Does it feel like your kid is always sick? Building that immune system is hard work. Let these nutrition tips ease your mind while going through the trenches of your kid being sick.

Does Your Child have to eat when they’re sick?

No. Your child is still in control of if and how much they eat. Their appetite might be way down while they’re fighting off illness and that’s ok. Their bodies know how much they need. However, we do want to ensure that we’re keeping them hydrated!

What To Offer Your Child To Drink

No matter what kind of sick your child is: head cold, throwing up, diarrhea, fever etc. you have to make sure they’re hydrated! All of the bodily fluids involved in being sick draw water out of the body and could lead to dehydration. Here are some tips to getting your child to drink more while sick:

  • Offer small sips throughout the day, rather than chugging
  • Offer what they like to drink: water, 100% juice, coconut water, milk, or a smoothie, whatever you can get them to drink honestly
  • popsicles like Pedialyte or whole fruit juice popsicles
  • yogurt and milk (avoid if they have an upset stomach)
  • warm herbal caffeine-free tea with honey (which is clinically proven to help sore throats but only use over 1 year old)
  • Warm broth can be very soothing to an irritated throat

Will Dairy make my child’s cold worse?

Dairy can thicken mucus, but does not increase mucus production itself. If your child wants to drink milk during their cold you can still serve it and know they’ll have good nutrition from it. However, if they’re having tummy sickness it might be a good idea to lay back on the dairy and stick to easier to digest foods like the others listed above and below.

What should I feed them?

While it has been thought that you should stick with the BRAT (banana, rice applesauce, toast) diet while you’re sick there’s evidence to say that we don’t need to stick with those foods exclusively. Try to remember what you want to eat when you’re sick. Your child probably wants the same things. Some foods to consider offering:

  • Bagels or toast
  • White bread done right by Daves killer bread (good source of nutrition but not too hard to digest).
  • Crackers
  • Soup
  • Rice
  • Noodles
  • Smoothies can add a variety of nutrients in an easy to digest way
  • Potatoes
  • Boiled or baked chicken, fish or eggs
  • Oatmeal
  • Steamed Vegetables if they’ll eat them

Are There Foods You Should Avoid?

Some foods are harder to digest and therefore should be avoided when possible. One source says that these foods are:

  • Greasy foods like hotdogs or butter
  • Rich Foods like ice cream or sherbet, butter
  • Fried foods like french fries or hamburgers

    These foods can make diarrhea or vomiting worse.

Supplements to give your child when sick

Probiotics- This study shows that a probiotic supplement can be helpful in boosting the immune system in conjunction with a healthy diet. Not all probiotics are the same though, different strands are useful for different functions.

Elderberry: While it can not prevent illness this study shows that it can be helpful in reducing symptoms and shortening the length of illness. Elderberry is not for everyone though. Always ask your Pediatrician if your child would benefit from taking Elderberry first.

Vitamin C is best when it comes from our food. This will naturally support immune system without the supplement. Toddlers age 1-3 need an average of 15 mg of vitamin c a day. Children 4-8 years old need 25 mg per day.
1 strawberry has 7 mg of vitamin c in it so they would only need to eat two to four a day to meet their requirements depending on age.
Other sources of vitamin c are broccoli, citrus fruits, red and green bell peppers, kiwi and more.