Feeding a sick child…

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As children grow up their immune system also develops to handle various forms of illness. Most children are susceptible to occasional sore throats, stomach viruses or even flu, among other illnesses. When a child is sick, feeding becomes the last thing they want to do due to a reduced appetite. The best way to make your child eat is to offer small meals as many times as possible.

Always ensure that your sick child is hydrated. The body needs a lot of water to fight off infection. It is more important for the sick child to drink water than it is to eat, as water lets their body systems continue working.  If your child has a respiratory infection such as a cold, bronchitis or diarrhoea, it is more crucial to give them fluids over solids to prevent dehydration. Give the sick child cool, boiled water or fresh juices. But if the child has severe diarrhoea, a doctor may recommend a rehydration fluid. Do not give him any medicine to stop the diarrhoea unless under doctors instructions. Diarrhoea helps in eliminating toxins from the child’s body.

A sick child will find some foods more attractive than others. Respect his likes and dislikes when illness makes his appetite iffy. If the child is still breastfeeding encourage him to continue. Do not be frustrated and stop breastfeeding him. Due to the child’s selective choice of foods, he may not get all the nutrients needed and the doctor may recommend some supplements to ensure that he does not miss out on any nutrient.

Do not force the child to eat if he doesn’t want to. Children tend to take what they need when they need it. Their appetite will be restored once they recover.  Make sure the child is well hydrated and do not offer carbonated or caffeinated drinks or fresh milk.

If your child is suffering from constipation, cereal fibre is most helpful in overcoming mild constipation. Wheat-based wholemeal breakfast cereals and wholemeal pastas are also good in relieving constipation. Remember that extra fluid will be needed for full effectiveness of these foods.

To manage fever, give the child a lot of warm water, but if the fever persists, seek help from a doctor because your child could be suffering from a more serious problem. To treat sore throat for children who are above 12 months, squeeze a little lemon into warm water and add unsweetened honey and give the child to drink.

Published on March 2013

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