When your toddler has a cough or cold, it's unlikely that either of you is happy. You hate to see your child suffer, and kids often become cranky when they're ill. It's also hard to know what to feed a toddler who has a runny or stuffy nose or who bursts into sudden coughing fits. There are some foods that present advantages over others for a little one who's feeling under the weather.
Loss of Appetite
Often when a child is ill, his appetite is minimal to nonexistent. When you want to tempt your toddler to eat, you have to put something in front of him that he finds appealing. Choose the food that he never turns down, and coax him to take that first bite. That may be all it takes to reactivate his appetite. Alternatively, choose food that is particularly fragrant. Since the olfactory system is tied closely to the appetite, present foods that smell tantalizing like steaming hot vegetable, chicken noodle or tomato soup.
When a toddler has a cough or cold, it's often accompanied by an excess of mucus. The last thing you want to do is increase the problem. Avoid dairy products: milk, ice cream and cheese. Avoid feeding your toddler red meat as well. All increase mucus production in many individuals. Introduce warm drinks like tea that has cooled to an appropriate temperature, apple cider or chicken broth. Hot drinks cause mucus to thin and drain, helping your toddler breathe more freely.
As most moms know, liquids are especially important during times of sickness. Children may be excessively thirsty due to the drying effects of many cold medicines. While water is good most of the time, it can often be unpalatable to children with a cough, cold or sore throat. Offer your toddler fruit juice, sugar-free or reduced sugar drink mixes or iced tea. Flavored gelatin, applesauce and Popsicles are options that add water to the diet as well. Sugar-free options of these are available.
Oftentimes an upset tummy may accompany a cough or cold, and antibiotics and cold remedies can cause diarrhea. If digestive issues are a problem, put your toddler on the BRAT diet -- a bland menu that is low in fiber and consists of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Dehydration is a possibility with little ones who have vomiting or diarrhea. Be sure to replace lost fluids as soon as possible with electrolyte drinks specially formulated for children.