Finding foods that appeal to a toddler is difficult enough when he is healthy, but what to feed a toddler with the flu can be even more challenging. While children commonly catch contagious diseases such as colds and flu, it is important to contact your pediatrician when children under the age of 2 develop flu-like symptoms.
Influenza is a type of viral infection that affects your child’s respiratory system including his nose, throat and lungs. This is not the same condition as gastroenteritis, which is often called a stomach bug or stomach flu. The complications of influenza can be deadly, but keeping your child nourished and well-hydrated can help him through this disease.
Your child may experience various symptoms during a flu episode. Common flu signs include a fever over 100 degrees; chills and sweats; fatigue and weakness; nasal congestion; dry cough; and headache. Your toddler may show little interest in eating due to a decrease in appetite.
Dehydration can quickly occur in babies and toddlers. Signs of dehydration include fewer tears than normal when crying, fewer wet diapers, a dry mouth and skin that doesn’t bounce back after gentle pinching. Avoid dehydration by giving your child plenty of fluids throughout the day. MyOptumHealth.com recommends offering an ounce or two of oral rehydration solutions, such as Infalyte or Pedialyte, every half hour. Offering ice pops and icy drinks helps provide variety while encouraging fluid intake. If your child is nauseous or vomiting, ice chips or small sips of water or broth every five minutes will help to keep her hydrated.
If your toddler has a sore, scratchy throat, she may refuse to eat her regular foods. Choose soft foods to feed a toddler with the flu that go down easily. Soft fruits like grapes and melons can help supply both fluids, calories and nutrients. Easily digested foods, such as starchy mashed potatoes, plain noodles and rice may appeal to her, as well as bananas and applesauce, which are soft, yet flavorful foods.
Refusal to eat or drink may lead to serious complications, especially in babies and very young children. Contact a pediatrician if your child has difficulty drinking or shows symptoms of dehydration.