Bringing up a baby requires you to handle both good and not-so-good phases efficiently. So, while it makes you smile when you see him eating well and playing around with friends, anxiety can flood your mind when your toddler falls sick. Remember that your toddler’s immune system is still developing and it will get compromised every now and then. Moreover, a sick child can become extremely fussy while eating, leading to nutritional deficiencies and long recovery periods. This is the reason why you need to know what you can feed them and how, in case your child is suffering from common ailments like cold, fever, constipation and diarrhoea.
Important tips to keep in mind when your child has a fever:
Any kind of infection in the respiratory tract, urinary tract, ear, or nose, or the common cold can cause fever. Here are a few pointers on how to deal with the situation:
- Small and frequent meals are the best option for feeding a child suffering from fever. Small meals should be given every 2 hours during the initial days, followed by small meals every 4 hours. If your toddler is vomiting, make sure that the portion sizes are very small, but continue to feed him frequently.
- It’s also important for the diet to be high in calories and protein, and do not forget to incorporate plenty of fluids. In fact, the first 2-3 days should be devoted to fluids only (if there is no accompanying diarrhoea). Soups, glucose water, fresh fruit juices, and milk can be given.
- In the next few days, you can start offering semi-solid foods. Some good foods during fever are nutritious broths, cereal with milk, soft fruits, khichdi, boiled vegetables, and mashed curd rice. You can also feed your child a mixture of crushed nuts (almond, cashews, etc.) with milk.
- Make sure you include protein-rich foods in his diet, like milk, eggs, and dal. You can also feed tender meat or baked fish during this time.
- Focus on micronutrients like zinc, vitamin C, antioxidants, calcium, and iron. Don’t go for supplements unless recommended by your doctor. Instead, try to incorporate foods that are rich in these nutrients.
- Avoid fried, fatty and spicy foods completely. Also, avoid high-fibre foods. Although they’re great as a part of a regular diet, they can be difficult to digest when your child has a fever. Also avoid rich puddings, pastries, strongly flavoured drinks, creamy soups, and large amounts of ghee, butter, and vegetable oil.
- If your child has a cold, try feeding warm soups prepared with ginger. These can also act as a decongestant.
- Don’t force your child to eat if he is not able to. Just stop for the time being and try again in a short while.
What to feed a toddler suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting
Infections caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites can lead to diarrhoea. And when left untreated, it can lead to dehydration and severe complications. Following are some ways to treat this problem:
- The diet will depend on the severity of the diarrhoea. Diarrhoea can be quite scary when it’s severe and it’s important to know why the diarrhoea is happening. So, speak to your doctor immediately if you see signs of dehydration. Watch out if your child seems less active than usual, has a dry and sticky mouth, produces no tears while crying, has a persistent fever or stomach pain, or passes no urine for 6 hours, or if there is blood or mucus in the stool.
- Try to feed the child small but frequent meals instead of 3 big meals.
- Probiotics will help improve his digestion and fight harmful microorganisms. Curd or thin buttermilk are great options and are well-known home remedies for diarrhoea in babies.
- You can also use probiotic supplements but only if your doctor recommends it.
- Bland foods are usually good for managing diarrhoea. These might include well-cooked eggs, applesauce, pasta or white rice, pancakes and bread made with refined flour, mashed bananas, baked potatoes, baked or broiled chicken, fish, or turkey.
- Give your child time to get back to his normal diet. Sometimes, a quick return to the normal diet may result in a relapse.
- Avoid giving fried, greasy, processed, or fast foods, as well as fruit juices, caffeine and carbonated drinks. It’s best to stay away from gassy foods like broccoli, peppers, beans, berries, chickpeas, etc.
What to feed a child with constipation
Constipation is a common problem that crops up from the moment you start giving your child complementary foods. In toddler, this problem might appear due to low fibre intake, low hydration, and excessive consumption of processed foods. Here are ways to manage the same:
- One of the best constipation home remedies is to increase your child’s intake of fibre. Soluble fibre traps water in the stools, making it easier to pass, while insoluble fibre adds bulk to the stool, clearing the intestines. However, excess fibre can cause gas in the stomach. So, make sure you increase your child’s fibre intake gradually. Also, make sure they drink more water as soluble fibre absorbs water.
- Sometimes, just adding water or juice to the diet does the trick and relieves constipation.
- Fruits are a great option for adding fibre to your child’s diet but dried fruits are even better— go for apricots, figs, and prunes.
- One of the best recipes for constipated toddlers is oatmeal bran — one cup of oatmeal mixed with fruits can be perfect.
- Avoid giving processed foods as they are low in fibre and high in fat and salt. Also, avoid processed grains (like maida and polished rice) because they don’t have enough fibre.
Detecting these common diseases at an early stage and trying out easy home remedies and diet changes can solve the problem in most cases. If things do not change and your child is still suffering from the same problem, consult your paediatrician immediately.