10 Best Ways to Feed a Sick Toddler Who Won't Eat

10 Best Ways to Feed a Sick Toddler Who Won’t Eat

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Helpful ideas on what to feed a sick toddler who won’t eat.

As a mom of 2 little girls, it always worries me when my toddlers are too sick to eat.

It put my mind at ease to have a plan when this happens. This article will share some tips I’ve learned that helped me when my kiddos are under the weather and not eating.

This article is not intended to replace medical advice. Always contact your health care provider with questions or concerns regarding your child’s health. Please read my full medical disclosure here.

What Should You Feed a Sick Toddler Who Won’t Eat?

Have your child drink small sips of water, juice, or Pedialyte throughout the day. Do not force them to eat. Offer small frequent meals throughout the day. Try the BRAT diet foods: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Eating just a few bites at a time is helpful for energy and nutrition. Contact your health care provider immediately if they experience fewer wet diapers, dark-colored urine, irritability, or if they are refusing to eat or drink.

This article will provide tips and tricks on finding new ways to feed your sick toddler and get them back to good health. Keep reading to find more information to get you started.

*Remember to contact your child’s pediatrician if they continue to refuse to eat or drink or develop signs of dehydration.

Rice, Bananas, applesauce, toast

10 Best Ways to Feed a Sick Toddler Who Won’t Eat

Sick child with hand over forehead

1. Help Your Child Stay Hydrated

Your child can lose too much liquid when they have a fever, are vomiting, or have diarrhea. Offer your young children small sips of water frequently throughout the day. Here are some other ways to be sure your sick kids are getting plenty of fluids:

  • Fruit juices are high in vitamin C, which is good for the child’s immune system
  • Oral rehydration solution (ORS), also known as electrolyte solution such as Pedialyte
  • Breast milk if you are still breastfeeding
  • Popsicles
  • Jello

2. Do Not Force Your Toddler to Eat

It is essential to help your child stay hydrated. Your child’s lack of appetite will likely only last a few days. They will usually begin eating as they start to feel better.

3. How Often Should I feed My Sick Toddler?

Offer your child small amounts of food periodically throughout the day. Be sure they are easy-to-digest foods, as listed in the section below.

Scrambled eggs, yogurt with berries, chocolate pudding, smoothies, mashed potatoes, oatmeal with berries, child in high chair being fed

4. Best Foods For Sore Throat

If your toddler feels likes eating, try introducing soft, easy-to-swallow foods. Otherwise, continue with the fluids list above. Here are some soft foods to try:

  • Applesauce
  • Oatmeal
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Yogurt
  • Fruit smoothie
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Pudding

5. Best Foods For Stomach Flu

It is best to feed your child bland foods when they are experiencing diarrhea with a stomach bug. These foods include crackers, dry cereal, bananas, rice, applesauce, or toast.

If your child is vomiting, it is best to avoid food and give this ORS (oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte). Give them the ORS solution as often as 1 tsp every minute or so until they can hold down more. Then slowly increase the amount.

When your child has a stomach bug, according to kidsfirstpediatricpartners.com, pay attention to these signs of dehydration:

  • Darker urine than usual
  • Urinating less frequently
  • Thirst
  • Irritability
  • Less of an appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • No tears when they are crying
  • Sleepiness
  • Skin that is not as springy as usual

Bananas and orange juice are good foods to supply potassium when your child has been experiencing vomiting and diarrhea. For further information on the stomach flu and your child, read this article written by a pediatrician: How to get your child through the stomach flu .

Child in bed with thermometer in mouth and a teddy bear, pictures of apple juice, soup, popsicles, chicken noodle soup, and toast

6. What to Feed Your Toddler with a Fever

When your toddler has a fever, their appetite may decrease. Remember to keep your child hydrated most of all. They may not feel like eating much. Try to offer small frequent meals and the following foods:

  • Clear liquids such as water, diluted fruit juice, ginger ale, or Pedialyte
  • Chicken broth
  • Frozen popsicles
  • Clear soups
  • Toast or crackers

7. Ideas to Feed a Sick Child Who Won’t Eat

It’s best to try and offer healthy foods whenever possible. Nutritious foods will help them gain the energy and nutrition that their bodies need to recover. Avoid fatty foods and added spices. Try and offer these foods in some amounts periodically throughout the day:

  • Bland foods from the Brat diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, or toast
  • Pasta
  • Good old chicken noodle soup
  • Fruit Smoothies
  • Crackers
  • Yogurt or kefir with fruit
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Steamed vegetables
Child in high chair drinking juice, pictures of a juice cup, watermelon, blueberries and a smoothie, vegetable soup, and homemade popsices

8. What if My Child Refuses to Drink?

Try to offer fluids in different ways, such as through a syringe, spoon, cup, or bottle. You can also try using their favorite mug with a fun straw. Some children may not want to drink anything at all.

You can try offering high-water content foods such as watermelon, soup, or smoothies. Frozen juice bars or popsicles are also an excellent way to get fluids into your child.

You should seek medical attention immediately if you cannot get your child to consume fluids in any form.

9. Spend Extra Time With Your Child

I actually loved getting sick as a child. In my child-like mind, I thought my mom was nicer to me when I was ill. I’m sure that wasn’t true, but she must have spent extra time with me.

Lots of snuggles, watching their favorite tv programs, or playing puzzles or games can make the time go by and get their mind off of their sickness. The best thing is that you will be making precious memories with them.

mother holding her child

10. Common Reasons Why Your Toddler Won’t Eat When Sick

It is usually expected for a child not to eat when feeling sick. They may be too tired or irritable for various reasons such as an upset stomach, sore throat, or congestion.

Not eating can be one of our child’s first symptoms of getting sick. When you notice this change in appetite, it’s a good idea to take note of any other symptoms they are having.

Related Questions

Is It Normal For My Toddler Not to Eat When They Are Sick?

When your toddler is sick, the last thing they probably want to do is eat. And that’s totally normal! Loss of appetite is one of the most common symptoms of sickness in toddlers. So don’t worry if your little one isn’t interested in food for a few days. Just make sure they’re staying hydrated and are getting enough rest.

Is Jello Good for Sick Toddlers?

Jello can be a good option for a child who won’t eat. It’s soft and easy to swallow. It also contains vitamins and minerals that your child needs. You can add some fruit or yogurt to the Jello to make it more nutritious.

What to Make a Sick Toddler for Breakfast

*Smoothie made with yogurt and fruit
*Oatmeal is soothing for a sore throat
*Scrambled eggs offer a good source of protein
*Watermelon, peaches, apples, bananas or pineapples

How Much Fluid Does a Sick Toddler Need to Avoid Dehydration?

I learned these guidelines from nationwidechildrens.org. It lists what children should drink based on their weight, from 7 lbs to older children weighing up to 60 lbs. Your child should consume at least the minimum amounts shown in this chart. You may need to increase this if your child has a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Should I Let My Sick Toddler Sleep All Day?

Your toddler needs extra rest when they are sick. According to kidsclinic.pediatricweb.com, they state, “As long as your child is alert when awake, extra sleeping is normal.”
They will return to their normal sleep patterns once they feel better.

Is Breast Milk Good For a Sick Baby?

Yes, breast milk is suitable for your sick baby. Breast milk contains antibodies and nutrients that help your baby fight off pathogens when they are sick. As an added benefit, when you breastfeed your baby, the skin-to-skin contact can help regulate their body temperature.

What are Flu Symptoms in Children and When to Be Concerned

Here are the typical flu symptoms that your child may have during flu season:

*Runny Nose 
*Loss of appetite
*Sore throat

If your child shows any of the following symptoms, take them to their medical care provider immediately.

*Fever that doesn’t respond to fluid or fever-reducing medication
*Extreme irritability
*Constant headaches
*Chest pain
*Neck stiffness
*Vomiting resulting in dehydration
*Stomach pain
*Back pain
*Weak legs
*Severe muscle pain
*Red urine
For further helpful information, read this article, “Flu Symptoms-When to See a Doctor.”

How much Vitamin C Should a Toddler Take?

According to WebMD, toddlers between the ages of 1-3 years should take 15 mg/day of Vitamin C.

cutting board with "vitamin c" etched in it, it is surrounded by fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts


I hope this article, “Best ways to feed a sick toddler who won’t eat,” was helpful for you in finding ideas to get through this rough season. 

The key takeaways are to keep your child hydrated and don’t over-worry about your child eating. Offer small amounts at a time, and rest assured that their appetite will return when they feel better. Trust your instincts if you think you need to contact your medical care provider.

Comment below if you tried something that helped your sick child when they were ill.  I’d love to learn more.  Check out my About Me Page to learn more about my crew and me!

I hope you come back soon!

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