Disclaimer: this post is for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Be sure to consult with your physician for questions regarding medical conditions and treatment. 

One of the most helpless feelings as a parent is caring for a child who’s not feeling well. There’s also plenty of folklore, and traditions surrounding what you should feed them when they’re feeling under the weather, but what is really the best way to feed a sick child?

Keep them hydrated

Regardless of the symptoms, you really can’t go wrong by keeping your kid hydrated. Here are some good options:

Water- There’re all sorts of liquid options, and water’s a good choice, the only problem is that it won’t replace the electrolytes and minerals lost during a bout of illness.

Pop – contrary to the wisdom that colas can comfort an upset stomach; the caffeine in these drinks could actually worsen existing symptoms! Pop’s not a bad option, but you should choose something caffeine-free like Sprite, or of course Ginger-Ale. For a healthier option, put lots of ice in the drink or even water it down to reduce sugar content.

Gatorade – When you’re sick you lose more than just water, Gatorade is a great way to replenish your child’s electrolytes. Again though, you may want to water it down a bit.

Fruit Juices – Fruit juices are a tasty way to get vitamins and minerals to a sick child while keeping them hydrated. Be careful which type of juice you choose though, the acidic content of orange juice can actually worsen sore throats!

Pedialyte- Since it’s specifically designed to rehydrate kids when they get dehydrated from being sick, Pedialyte is probably your best option for maintaining your child’s optimal hydration.

You can lead a sick kid to Ginger Ale… but you can’t make them drink

Sometimes, despite the fact that they need to, your little one might just not want to drink. Here are a few creative ways to make sure your child gets the fluid they need.

Popsicles – What looks like a sweet treat, is actually a good hydration technique. Try these homemade Green Tea Well Pops  for a healthier alternative to sugary ready-made popsicles.

Soups – Soups are another great way to keep your little one full of fluids.

Food recommendations for specific symptoms

“Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever?”

We’ve all heard this old adage, but is it just folk wisdom based on tradition or sound advice? According to WebMD, you should not starve either a cold or a fever. Instead, try to maintain a balanced  diet.

It’s usually a good idea to feed your child when they are hungry and not force feed them if they aren’t. Generally their body knows best when it comes to illness and appetite!

Upset Stomach 

If your child can’t keep anything down, it’s not a good idea for them to try to eat anything. But once they start to recover, the BRAT diet is a great way to  ease their digestive system back to normal eating. The BRAT diet is super easy to remember (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast.) It’s good for easing symptoms of diarrhea and includes electrolytes that could aid in preventing dehydration.

Runny Nose 

Here’s one piece of folk wisdom that’s backed up by science. It turns out that chicken noodle soup, according to, is more than just a traditional comfort food. It actually lessens the severity of runny noses by “reducing the movement of neutrophils”, which is doctor-speak for reducing mucus.

Sore Throat

It might sound like common sense, but sometimes when in the moment of taking care of an ailing child, you might not think to offer softer foods for sore throats. Oatmeal, soups, things other than crackers or anything hard rigid or crunch are great options.

Certain types of warm beverages, including chicken broth can also help soothe a scratchy esophagus. We found an herbal tea recipe called  Dragon Tea (named because the creator said it makes a fiery throat feel better) that sounds like a worthwhile remedy to give a try!


What do you feed your little ones when they get sick? Give us your feedback in our comments section below!