6 Best Foods To Feed A Child With Fever (And Foods To Avoid)
These foods are packed with nutrients that will help your child recover faster.
There’s nothing quite as distressing for parents to see their little ones fall ill and run a high fever. The lack of energy, burning-hot skin and feverish eyes all combine to make this a worrying time for parents. Adding to the misery is when a sick child refuses to eat, making parents wonder what to feed a child with fever.
So, what to feed a child with fever? Let’s find out, as well as the foods to avoid.
Parents, first keep in mind that fever is not an illness. It is merely the symptom of an illness and is, in fact, a sign that your child’s immune system is in tip-top working condition.
A person’s normal temperature is around 37 degrees C (98.6 F). A fever is anything above this.
Infections are usually caused by bacteria and viruses. Many of these thrive when your body is at its normal temperature. When your child gets a fever, it means his body is trying to kill these illness-causing microorganisms. Your child’s immune system is also activated in the process.
Having identified that fever is not an illness in itself, a child with fever will feel uncomfortable, especially if there are other symptoms like a sore throat and runny nose. Also, it’s important not to let a fever go too high, as this may set off febrile fits in some kids.
Additionally, it’s quite likely his appetite will take a hit, too. While this is normal, many parents worry about what to feed a child with fever.
While keeping in mind that it’s fine for your feverish child to eat his regular meals, if your little one is fussy, then the following foods can both nourish and help him recover faster.*
If your child is still breastfeeding, let him nurse more frequently while he is sick. Your breasts can actually sense when your baby is fighting an infection (through baby’s saliva). The composition of your breastmilk will then change to include more antibodies to help fight that infection and bring down the fever.
Also, the act of nursing will bring comfort to your little one, helping him be more at ease while sick.
2. Chicken soup
If your child has started solids, then chicken soup with added veggies is an ideal food to feed your child with fever. It contains a good balance of vitamins, minerals and protein which your child’s body needs in larger quantities while sick.
Your little one will also get much-needed fluids and electrolytes though chicken soup, again good to help him battle that infection and bring down the fever. If your little one has fever because he has a cold or the flu, then the steam from the soup will help clear congestion.
At the same time, chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine. This has anti-viral and antioxidant properties that will also help manage the fever.
3. Frozen fruit or breastmilk pops
If you’re wondering what to feed a child with fever, try these little frozen treats. Blitz up fresh fruit, pour into popsicle moulds and freeze, or do the same with breastmilk. Both of these foods are packed with antioxidants and other nutrients that will help your child fight the infection better.
Also, the coolness of these will help cool down your little one’s body too. Plus, they’re yummy!
4. Coconut water
In Asian culture, coconut water is traditionally thought to have cooling properties. And when your child has fever, you want to do your best to help him lower his body temperature. Coconut water is also an excellent natural source of electrolytes, in case your child’s fever is caused by a tummy bug. Also, its mildly sweet taste should go down well even with fussy eaters (who will likely get even fussier when ill).
Pure organic honey is packed with antomicrobial compounds. There is also scientific evidence that honey may stimulate the immune system. Research also shows that honey can be more effective than cough medicines at soothing coughs in children. This makes it especially good to feed your child if their fever is triggered by a throat infection.
Safety warning: NEVER feed honey to children under the age of one, due to the risk of infant botulism.
There’s something just so comforting about a steaming, creamy bowl of oatmeal. But this aside, oatmeal is a natural source of vitamin E, which boosts the immune system. Additionally, it contains polyphenol antioxidants, and beta-glucan fibre which also help the immune system.
Avoid processed, instant oats and choose whole oats for the best results.
Parents, it’s best to avoid the following types of food while your child is sick:
- Caffeinated beverages: While your child may not drink tea or coffee, fizzy drinks and sodas contain caffeine. These can make your little one dehydrated if consumed. Also, they contain way too much sugar.
- Hard or jagged foods. If your child’s fever is caused by a throat infection, it’s best to avoid things like crunchy crackers, chips, and other rough foods. These can irritate his throat.
- Processed foods. Low in nutrients, high in saturated fats and sugars, junk food will do nothing to help your child’s immune system battle the infection that is causing their fever. Avoid them completely.
*Please note that a child should only be fed solids (i.e., the food listed here, except for honey which can only be give after a year) at around 6 months of age.
If your child gets sick with an accompanying fever before this age, continue to breastfeed or offer pure breastmilk pops. As always, you should consult a paediatrician for medical advise.
Also read: Your baby’s fever: Do’s and don’ts