Foods and Drinks for Sick Kids

June 19, 2019

Foods and Drinks for Sick Kids

It is hard for parents to watch their little ones battle sickness. Sometimes we feel helpless and unable to do much to make them feel better because many illnesses just have to be left to run their course. A little patient waiting and a TLC from parents along with comforting foods and drinks are helpful in taking care of littles who are under the weather. Below are some food and drink tips for your sick sweetie.

Colds and Sore Throats

If your child has a stuffed up nose or a throat that is so sore that it hurts to swallow, encourage lots of fluids. Fluids help to loosen phlegm, which makes it easier to cough up. Water is best for colds but ice pops, ginger ale, and diluted juice are all okay as well – but in moderation.

When it comes to sore throats, warm or super cold liquids can also soothe. Think warm tea, hot water with lemon and honey (if your child is old enough to consume honey), ice pops or ice cold water or juice. Avoid citrus juices as they can actually exacerbate sore throat symptoms in some kids.

Chicken soup or warm chicken/bone broth are classic remedies for colds and sore throats, thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties that research has proven to be found in these foods. If your child has an appetite still, add in some whole wheat macaroni or crumbled up whole wheat crackers.

Upset Stomach

If your child has diarrhea or is throwing up, fluids are essential. Hundreds of thousands of children end up in the hospital emergency department due to dehydration every year, often because parents are reluctant to give anything to eat or drink to a child who can’t keep anything down. While withholding solid food may be a good idea, there are things that can be offered to sick kids with stomach upset.

If a child is breastfeeding and under 1, nurse her for shorter periods of time and more frequently. If she throws up right away, wait 20 minutes before offering the breast again. It is likely that she retained some food even if it looks like it’s all gone. If your baby continues throwing up and you are suspicious that she is dehydrated, take a couple hours off from breastfeeding and offer just a tablespoon of Pedialyte or other oral rehydration solution every 10 to 15 minutes until vomiting stops.

If baby is under 1 and bottle feeding, stop giving formula and give baby 1 tablespoon of Pedialyte every 20 minutes.

If your child is over age 1, give one to two tablespoons of Pedialyte every 20 to 30 minutes. If she vomits, wait 30 minutes before trying again. If she keeps it down, increase the amount until she is able to take two tablespoons every 10 minutes.

If a child is over 1 and is not vomiting but has diarrhea, other liquids are also fine to give, including water or milk – but avoid fruit juice for the time being.


For a child with a fever, it is still important to push fluids. Offer frequent sips of breastmilk, diluted fruit juice, milk or Gatorade (depending on his age and what is appropriate for him to drink). Applesauce and fresh fruit also offer liquid that will benefit your sick one. Remember that when a fever is present, a child may take a day or two to have a regular appetite, so don’t push too much food.

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