When your child is unwell or just recovering from an illness, do not offer rich, fatty meals.

Does your baby feel under the weather? There are a few ways you can encourage your sick child to keep their energy levels up with these food tips.

While colds and flu are more common in winter, children can still fall ill during summer. At the drop of a hat, children seem to pick up bugs. Fortunately, small ones bounce back from common ailments relatively quickly.  But, until they are feeling like themselves again, your child may not have an appetite.  If anyone tells you to “starve a cold, feed a fever,” don’t listen. Childhood illnesses call for a nutritious diet – just adjust your tot’s meals to suit her appetite.  

There are a couple of handy tips here:  

Food versus fluid

Fluid intake becomes the primary priority over food, while your baby or child is unwell. Concentrate on her fluid intake if your baby or toddler refuses to eat something. Babies are more susceptible than older children to dehydration, and there are limited options for maintaining their fluid intake. Ice-lollies, especially if they have a sore throat or earache, are an excellent source of fluid for infants.  

Stick to familiar foods

This is not a good time to have new, adventurous dishes to offer. Please keep it simple and offer frequent small feeds to your little one. Focus on giving him foods rich in protein; it is essential for your immune system and helps repair damaged body tissue. But when your child is unwell or just recovering from an illness, do not offer rich, fatty meals.  

Foods that help fight sickness

  • 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 relieve diarrhoea. Pectin, the soluble fibre in apples, also helps relieve constipation.

A traditional favourite dish for fighting illness

A bowl of homemade chicken and noodle soup from a loving parent to their sick child brings an incomparable kind of healing. There’s a warm and fuzzy emotional association with chicken noodle soup, and over the centuries, it’s remained a popular meal to give sick children.  

Chicken noodle soup recipe

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
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • 100g fine Chinese noodles, broken
  • 75g frozen or tinned sweetcorn
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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