This week was a challenging one in the food department. We had a case of a stomach bug that affected every member of the family in one way or another. It is always a tricky situation when you have children who have upset stomachs, because the last thing you want to clean up is a carpet covered in bright red vomit after feeding your child jello! The recommendation that has typically been given by pediatricians was known as the BRAT diet: B-bananas, R-rice, A-applesauce, T-toast. We have used this diet in the past for ourselves and our children, but many pediatricians are now saying that the BRAT diet does not provide adequate protein and calories to help the child's body recover as quickly as it could. Here are a few guidelines we have used when dealing with upset tummies in our family.
Anytime your child is vomiting or has diarrhea, they are at risk of dehydration. We have seen this happen to each one of our children to an extreme extent and it can actually be a scary and even life threatening condition if not addressed quickly. When your child is sick, and having difficulty keeping anything down, start by offering one sip of fluid every 5 minutes. This will only introduce a small amount of liquid into the stomach and allow for your child to absorb it easily. If your child is able to keep down what they take in, a few good options to keep them hydrated are: water, diluted fruit juice (not citrus), chicken broth, Popsicles, ice chips, gelatin (not brightly colored!), pedialite, fruits high in water like watermelon or grapes. If you can keep your child hydrated they will feel much better and be able to fight off their illness more easily.
2. Bland Foods
To help your child settle their stomach, bland foods are the best choice. Nothing with lots of salt, spices or grease is best. But remember, your child needs protein and some fats in his or her diet to have energy! Yogurt is a great option for this. It contains active cultures that aid in replenishing the natural bacteria in the gut, which will help with digestion. Yogurt is full of protein and some sugar to provide your child with energy, and it is easy to swallow. Things like saltine crackers, toast, dry cereal, or pancakes are good choices too. Fruits like apples, bananas, and pears are gentle on the stomach. Oatmeal is also a great choice, our children LOVE it, and usually request it when they are sick. Stick with giving your child foods that they normally love to eat, this will also make them less stressed when you offer them food.
3. Get Back To Normal
As soon as your child's stomach will handle it, getting back to a normal diet is best. Offering your child their normal foods will give their body a chance to build the strength it needs. Anyone who has had a stomach virus knows how exhausting it can be on your body when you can't eat much for 24-48hrs. The sooner you can eat a normal meal, the better. Just take it slow and make sure to do it gradually. I have found that even in the midst of a very bad bout of sickness, our children fare much better when we encourage them to take even a few bites of cereal or fruit even if they are not completely well yet.
Thankfully, we are all back to our normal selves, and everyone has a big appetite again. I hope this was able to help you navigate the tricky times when your child has an upset tummy!