This time of year marks the start of the cough-and-sniffle season. Children seem to pick up bugs at the drop of a hat. Thankfully, little ones bounce back quickly and tackle the next infection equipped with a slightly more highly tuned immune system.
But what do we feed our little ones to help them recover from a cold or the flu? What should we do if they refuse to eat anything at all?
Here are a few handy tips.
Fluid versus food
While your baby or child’s unwell, fluid intake becomes the main priority over food. If your baby or toddler is refusing to eat something, concentrate on her fluid intake. Babies are more prone to dehydration than older children are and there are limited options to maintain their fluid intake. Ice-lollies are an excellent source of fluid for toddlers –especially if they have a sore throat or earache.
What to feed your sick child
This is not a good time to offer new, adventurous dishes. Keep it simple and give your little one frequent small feeds. Focus on giving him protein-rich foods; it’s important for your immune system and helps repair damaged body tissue. But don’t offer rich, fatty meals when your child is unwell or just recovering from an illness.
Foods that pack punch
- Garlic: It contains allicin, which is a natural antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal agent.
- Vitamin C: Levels of vitamin C are depleted when you’re sick. Boosting the body’s vitamin C levels may actually reduce cold symptoms. Vitamin C is also needed to help heal wounds. It also increases the body’s absorption of iron. Good sources include kiwi fruit, citrus, sweet peppers, blackcurrants, dark-green leafy vegetables and strawberries.
- Apple: This fruit is very easy to digest. In the US, doctors often suggest the ‘BRAT’ (bananas, rice, apples and toast) diet to help relieve diarrhoea. Pectin, the soluble fibre in apples, also helps relieve constipation.
3 good foods for sick kids you can try
Chicken noodle soup
From: Lunchboxes (Ebury Press)
Makes: 6 portions
Suitable for freezing
- 1 chicken breast
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1.2 litres chicken stock
- 100g fine Chinese noodles, broken
- 75g frozen or tinned sweetcorn
- 3 spring onions, finely sliced
- Slice the chicken breast in half to make two thin fillets. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade and marinate the chicken for 30 minutes.
- Bring the stock to the boil. Reduce the heat and poach the chicken for about 8 minutes. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon, reserving the marinade. Allow to cool down slightly. Shred the chicken very finely.
- Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions. Stir the sweetcorn, spring onions and reserved marinade into the stock. Bring to the boil, then add the shredded chicken and noodles and heat through.
Risotto with butternut and squash
Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner (Ebury Press)
Makes: 4 portions
- 50g onion, chopped
- 25g unsalted butter
- 110g Basmati rice
- 450ml boiling water
- 150g butternut squash, peeled and chopped
- 225g ripe tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped
- 50g Cheddar cheese, grated
- Sauté the onion in half the butter until softened.
- Stir in the rice until well coated.
- Pour over the boiling water, cover pan with a lid and cook for 8 minutes over a high heat.
- Stir in the butternut. Reduce the heat and cook, covered, for about 12 minutes or until or the water has been absorbed.
- Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan. Add the tomatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the cheese until melted.
- Add the tomato-and-cheese mixture into the cooked rice and stir gently.
Peach or apricot ice-lollies
From: After School Meal Planner (Ebury Press)
Makes: 8 ice lollies
- 400g can sliced peaches in fruit juice
- 200g tub peach or apricot yoghurt
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- Drain the juice from the peaches.
- Blend all the ingredients together.
- Pour into the ice-lolly moulds and freeze for about 3 hours or until solid.
These delicious ice-lollies are great for soothing sore throats, cooling down a toddler with a fever and rehydrating little ones.
For more recipe inspiration download Annabel’s Essential Guide to Feeding Your Baby & Toddler app. Access more than 200 delicious recipes, as well as a host of features to keep your family on track and enjoying meal times. Download the new version from the App Store now or visit www.annabelkarmel.com.
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