The secret is out: the flu is running rampant. Almost every state has experienced higher than usual numbers of flu cases, with some cases even resulting in tragic deaths. This year's flu epidemic has made many parents take flu prevention, symptoms, and treatment seriously. If your toddler comes down with the flu, following the proper protocol is important.
We spoke with experienced pediatric RN Keith Ellingson about the best foods and drinks to help during and after the flu. "Proteins and fluid are super important when it comes to fighting and healing from the flu," he said. He went on note that although the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) used to be highly recommended and can still help with upset stomachs, it lacks important protein elements that are vital to a child's healing process.
"With snacking, go with anything that's going to be gentle on their stomach," he said. "The most important thing is hydration — that they're getting enough fluid in and they're putting enough fluid out, which is going to reduce fever and help your kid feel a lot better."
As mentioned, hydration is key during the flu. One way to ensure your child receives more fluids is by making icy drinks or homemade ice pops. Often, drinks that contain electrolytes, such as Pedialyte or Powerade, are better than water, so ice pops made with Pedialyte or Powerade and even a few small chunks of fruit, such as strawberries, can soothe sore throats and help your little one rehydrate.
Another good food to have on hand is clear chicken broth. In the same vein as ice pops, broth is a good way to get liquid nutrients to your child, and clear chicken broth has important proteins to help replenish their energy even when they don't feel like eating normal meals. If possible, stick with homemade broth since canned broth often contains tons of sodium, which can upset already testy tummies.
As your child improves, progressively adding solids into their diet is a great way to help build back their strength. Mashed potatoes are a nice, bland way to provide necessary starches back into your child's system. Instead of adding butter or garlic, try adding in some chicken broth to increase the protein of the dish.
Remember, always contact your primary care doctor if you notice symptoms or reactions that worry you.