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Feeding a sick child

Posted by on Dec 31, 2009 in Blog Posts | 1 comment

When kids are sick, all bets are off, especially with infants and pre-verbal kiddos– appetite, hunger signals– it’s just hard. Are they crying because their ears or throat hurt, or are they hungry?

A client called the other day, worried that his baby boy was eating less again. They had made major gains with some feeding problems, and this illness was just plain scary. Dad was resorting to some feeding practices that hadn’t helped earlier on, but he worried about his son’s intake.
Taking care of sick kids IS scary and confusing for everyone, but especially for parents already worried about a child’s intake or size.
In general, sick infants and children eat less. When you are cued in to your child’s appetite it can be an early sign that something is going on. My own daughter seemed to lose her appetite a few days before the runny nose or diarrhea (yuck) would start.
It can take more than a week for appetite to return to normal, and if your child is on any medicines, particularly antibiotics, that can make it even worse. Antibiotics taste bad and can interfere with normal gut bacteria.
Support your child by offering foods and drink often when they are ill. Throw away the usual schedule when your toddler is sick and let him nibble and sip throughout the day. That infant who normally nurses for 20 minutes might only nurse for 5, or intake from a bottle might drop too. Instead of waiting 3-4 hours between feeds, try offering the bottle more often and not pressuring when they refuse it.
Kids don’t have to eat much when they are ill for a few days. Even a few bites might be all they take. Consider giving popsicles, Jello or watered down juice to boost fluid intake.
Have faith that their appetite will return when they feel better, and see your doctor if it doesn’t. Know that the Trust model of feeding is flexible and that you can get back to regular feeding and schedules when your child is better. (There might be a little whining for Jello, but you’ll know how to handle that too!)
If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to see your child’s health care provider. If they are listless or acting off, don’t hesitate to contact and have your child evaluated. (Kids can get dehydrated with diarrheal or vomiting illnesses, so be sure to check in with your doc.)
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One Comment

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  1. ashman

    its really very useful and informative posting that you share with us. thanks for this.

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