3 Ways to Maximize Fluid Intake When Your Little One is Sick with a Cold

Guest post by Holly Sanford, RN

Colds are commonplace, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t challenging for parents. One of the most stressful experiences during your little one's illness is watching their fluid intake decrease. Adequate nutrition and hydration are essential for recovery, but sometimes it may seem like your child won’t tolerate much of anything. As a pediatric nurse and a mother who has experienced many attempts to coax a sickly child into nourishment, I have discovered a few tips to help maximize a child's ability to eat. 

  1. Particularly during an upper respiratory infection, it is important to clear the nasal passage prior to feeding. Imagine trying to drink a large cup of water with a stuffy nose. After a few gulps, you realize you cannot breathe and quickly take a break. You might feel like you are going to suffocate! This is one reason why smaller children refuse to participate in mealtime. So, before every feeding point in our day, I will bring out the NozeBot, add 1-2 drops of saline in each side of the nose, and then suction to make sure my child is able to breathe well prior to offering a feeding. Even if the child does not consume their usual amount, you are still maximizing their intake potential. 
  1. Younger, breast-feeding babies may benefit from shorter feeds that are offered more frequently. Your baby may tire out more quickly because of the illness and refuse to feed an adequate volume. However, giving him plenty of opportunities to eat small amounts throughout the day allows for a more comfortable pace. If milk is not working well, try offering Pedialyte, which is full of electrolytes and calories and may be easier to consume during illness. Some babies enjoy the new, sweet flavor while others may refuse anything except their usual milk. 
  1. If your toddler (12+ months) is slow to consume her usual amount of milk or water, feel free to let her splurge on a caffeine-free beverage of choice. I often allow full strength fruit juice and plenty of popsicles to maximize intake, a definite treat around our house. A fun cup or silly shaped straw may also pique their interest if they are of age. Get creative and make your own nutrition filled popsicles, juices, or smoothies. Many kids love anything sweet and cold!

Despite your best efforts, your little one may still seem slow to get everything they are needing. Reach out to your doctor if you are concerned. And remember that you are an amazing parent and doing the best you can! Though the tears and tantrums may persist, your patient love and cuddles are the best medicine in the world. 

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