Top Tips for Feeding Sick Children

Chicken pox has struck our house this week. Hence my quietness on the blog. It’s been a full on week with very little sleep. The poor J-boy is pretty much covered with spots and managed to get quite a bad dose of the pox with high temperatures to boot. He has not been a happy bunny. 

Dietitian UK: Chicken pox boy 1 Dietitian UK: Chicken pox boy 1

Cooking meals can be one of those things that goes out the window when you have a sick child… or are sick yourself. On Wednesday I was trying to cook dinner whilst playing “Hello Kitty” with one child and attempting to carry the other who was wailing in my ear. Not much fun. 

When my kids are sick I still offer them food regularly but they don’t always fancy it. It’s at times like these that I tend to change the goalposts. I offer a range of healthy foods and snacks, but also let them decide what they fancy. Our bodies know what they need. Sometimes when you are sick you just fancy dry, starchy foods  – they body may be wanting energy to fight off bugs. Small snacks can be easier than meals, so snacking on the sofa and having bites of foods here and there are ok, rather than a sit down meal. Don’t have set aims of how much portions of this or that they need to eat. They will be ok living off crumpets, milk and bananas for a few days (my current child’s diet!).

Dietitian UK: What to feed a sick child

My Top Tips for Feeding Sick Children:

1. Offer a range of healthy, nutritious foods and find out what they fancy. If they can tell you what they want it makes life easier. I took my 20 month old round the kitchen and showed him foods, he shook his head until he saw the crumpets, when he sad “Eat” we went with that.

2. Encourage them that they need to eat to help them get better but don’t force it. Let them also listen to their bodies. If they don’t eat try reoffering in an hours time. It may just be they are too tired. They will go back to their usual eating habits when better.

3. Keep the fluids going. Water and milk are always the best but try a range of things if you are struggling to get liquids in. My eldest will often ask for hot squash when she feels unwell. Homemade ice lollies using squash or watered down juice, frozen squeezy yoghurt, soup, milkshakes, ice cubes and smoothies all count. Using a straw or adding ice cubes to a drink can help. Or buy a new “get well soon” water bottle.

4. Fruits and veggies contain antioxidants that will help them fight off illness. Keep some fruit sliced up so it is easier to eat. Melon and grapes can be soothing for sore throats. Bananas can be one of those fruits the body wants when unwell. Soups packed with veggies can help boost the nutritional content of the day. Dried fruit can be good as a snack. 

5. Offer easy to eat nutritious foods. Natural or greek yoghurt can be soothing and refreshing. Tinned fruit is soft and easy to eat. Pitta with hummus, cheese and crackers or a homemade healthy flapjack bar can be left by their side to nibble on.

6. Keep portions small. It can seem overwhelming and off putting when you feel unwell to have a large portion in front of you. Give them a spoonful and see if they want more. It can save food waste too.

7. If they don’t want it, let them leave it. Not eating much for a few days will not cause any lasting problems or leave them nutritional deficient! They will make it up when they feel better. 

8. Raid the freezer. If you have a stash of homecooked freezer meals then now is the time to use them. Free up your arms for cuddles instead of cooking. Go for quick, simple meals. Pasta with pesto and veggies, jacket potatoes with tuna and salad, omelettes, fish fingers with peas and mash. 

9. Do an online shop. If like us, you know your child will not get better overnight then do an online shop and stock up with easy healthy snacks, fruit, milk, bread items and CALPOL! Plus maybe a bottle of wine for later 😉

10. Cereal for dinner is ok. Dinner doesn’t have to be a full on cooked affair. If they aren’t feeling up to it then keep it simple. 

I’ve an afternoon of a Thomas the tank engine DVD and cuddles with my boy, followed by fish fingers, peas and leftover risotto for tea. 


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