When a child is ill they may reject most food, and sleep more than usual. Although it is worrying to find your child turning away from food, in the short term it is not necessarily a major cause for concern – a healthy well nourished child won't come to much harm if they have only a small amount of food for a couple of days. However it is vital that they continue to take adequate fluids.
In fact, liquids are the crucial factor to remember if your child is ill and doesn't want to eat, so make them a priority. Water sipped little and often is vital. Remember, a straw could make it easier to drink and you should keep liquids at room temperature.
If your child can manage more than plain water, well diluted fruit or vegetable juices are easy to digest and more nutritious than fruit squashes. Broths – particularly chicken broth – are soothing and easily prepared using your Braun MultiQuick hand blender.
The main thing to remember is that a sick child needs a nourishing menu to help them get better as quickly as possible, while making the most out of every mouthful.
Tips for specific illnesses*
Offer your child's normal diet plus plenty of fluids, If your child has a high temperature for more than 24 hours seek advice from your doctor or paediatrician.
For children over 12 months of age, warm water with a squeeze of lemon sweetened with honey is soothing. Ice cream and smoothies can add to the calorific value of meals if the sore throat is stopping your child eating enough.
It's important to keep up your child's liquid intake with water, broths or if the diarrhoea is severe, electrolyte preparations from the pharmacist (follow manufacturer's guidance on age limits). Otherwise, stick to a normal diet with bland foods such as well-cooked vegetables, rice and plain meats. If diarrhoea persists consult your doctor or paediatrician.
Cereal fibre is most helpful in overcoming mild constipation. Wheat-based, wholemeal breakfast cereals, wholemeal bread, and wholemeal pasta can be very useful additions to the diet to help relieve constipation. However for these foods to help, extra fluid must be taken, preferably in the form of water or diluted fruit juice. The different sort of fibre found in fruit and vegetables can also help.
*Please note: In case of doubt or ongoing sickness you should always check with your pediatrician or doctor if not already having done so.