5 Excellent Foods To Feed A Fussy Toddler With A Cold

5 Excellent Foods To Feed A Fussy Toddler With A Cold

Also included are some additional tips to comfort your little tot while he's sick.

Toddlers are known for their big personalities and tantrums. They are also known to occasionally be picky eaters. And when your toddler gets a cold, you see all these elements come together in one glorious mess: illness-driven tantrums, and those big personalities shouting “NO” when you give them their favourite meals. So the question is, what to feed a toddler with a cold? How to keep their nutrient-levels up (and your sanity intact)? 

We’re here to help! 

What to feed a toddler with a cold

When a child is ill, they often go off food and drink. Or become pickier than usual. After all, it’s not easy to eat when you have a cold. For one, your taste sensations are dulled, making food taste bland and boring. Also, itchy throats and blocked noses make it hard to eat. 

Remember that a loss of appetite is normal when a toddler has a cold — it’ll come back once the child is better. The main thing is to keep your tot well hydrated.

But if he does agree to eat something, here’s what to feed a toddler with a cold. These are the best foods for a sick little one. They are both nourishing, and will help your child recover faster.

1. Honey

Honey is one of nature’s potent antibiotics. and is better than cough medicines you can buy in the pharmacy. The main benefit of honey is that it eases coughing  when it coats the inside of the throat and so soothes it.  

A practical tip is to feed your child half a teaspoon of this golden liquid just before sleeping. Just be careful not to feed it to kids under a year old as honey can cause infant botulism. 

2. Chicken soup or other warm liquids

what to feed a toddler with a cold

What to feed a toddler with a cold: chicken soup! It helps them feel better despite the symptoms. | Image Source: Stock Photo

Can a simple soup be that effective? Hard to believe, but yes: studies have shown that grandma’s simple recipe does help with colds by reducing inflammation – the main source of cold symptoms! Chicken soup helps to fight the cold in many ways, such as by:

  • making mucous secretions more fluid, helping to ease the feeling of a blocked nose, chest and  throat. 
  • providing other nutrients from noodles and vegetables (which is also a good addition for a complete meal). The carbohydrates from the noodles can raise energy levels needed, while vegetables are a nutrient-dense foods that will support your immune system in fighting the bug.

In fact, other warm liquids can also help. So not to worry if your little tot doesn’t like chicken. What matters is that it’s a warm liquid.

3. Foods packed with vitamin C

The effectiveness of vitamin C against the cold or flu is still quite debatable at this stage. Studies have shown that contrary to popular belief, vitamin C doesn’t prevent the cold and flu. Rather, it helps to ease the symptoms of the cold and flu and helps you heal faster. 

The best form is vitamin C is that which is found in fresh food – not supplements or processed things. So be sure to include such foods in your child’s regular diet, as this will help boost their immunity. 

Vitamin C is also water-soluble, so it gets drained out every time your kid pees. So do stock up plant foods packed with vitamin C and don’t forget to give them to your child when he has a cold. 

Here are some great natural sources of vitamin C: 

  • strawberries
  • broccoli
  • oranges
  • tomatoes 
  • kiwi 
  • grapefruit
  • papaya
  • cantaloupe
  • bell peppers
  • sweet potatoes

If your toddler refuses to eat fresh fruit because he is sick, try blitzing them into a smoothie or juice. Vegetables can be added to soup. 

4. Lean meat

Lean meat contains two essential immune-boosting minerals: iron, which is easily absorbed by the body, and zinc. What’s more, consuming lean meat is the fastest way to raise iron levels in the body. 

The next time your kid is down with a cold, try offering foods that contain lean meat, like beef broth, or a turkey toastie. 

5. Garlic 

This common, versatile cooking ingredient is also one of nature’s best fighters against disease.


  • has antioxidant qualities that are strong, so much so that they can fight viruses. This means that garlic may help ward off colds in the first place, or help your child recover faster. 
  • contains allicin, a chemical that provides that unique whiff of garlic and helps to combat colds. 

Garlic can be added to every single savoury meal you prepare. For your toddler with a cold, add it finely chopped to soups and broths. 

Don’t forget: knowing what to feed a toddler with a cold comes with feeding food in the right form

Young babies and toddlers with irritated, itchy, swollen throats may refuse to eat because swallowing is painful. So consider feeding them meals that go down smoothly, such as:

  • solid food that is mushy and mild, like ice pops, pudding, yogurt, or applesauce. Consider blending in vitamin C fruits.
  • soups. Mince some garlic and add it to the soup. 
  • You can also blend vitamin C-packed fruits into a smoothie or drink. 
  • breast milk or baby formula for babies under six months – not water or milk. Do increase feedings if they’re down with the flu or cold. Meanwhile, mummy, you could eat plenty of the foods listed above so your baby also gets their health benefits through your milk. 

Other ways to care for a toddler with a cold

1. Saline Drops

A blocked nose can make it tough to breathe, sleep or eat. It helps to use saline nasal drops so that the mucus becomes more fluid and lessen the swelling in the airways.

Take care to only drop them three times daily at most, as more than that could result in a sore nose.

You can also use a suction bulb for really young babies, or help your little one expel the mucus.

what to feed a toddler with a cold

What to feed a toddler with a cold: additional fluids. It’s important to remain hydrated to battle this disease. | Image Source: Stock Photos

2. Drink up!

Increasing fluid intake will help make the mucus more fluid, helping to clear blocked noses and spit out the phlegm within. 

Water, milk and fresh juice are good places to start.

3. Elevate your baby’s head

You might have noticed that sleeping at an angle with more pillows helps you breathe better when you have a blocked nose. Babies are no different: put a folded towel below the cover of your baby’s mattress so that they don’t sleep flat. The raised angle will help them to breathe easier. 

4. Turn on a Humidifier

Increased air moisture will help your child breathe, even with a blocked nose. Consider turning on a humidifier in our toddler’s bedroom before sleeping. Mist-producing machines are better than those which release steam – and don’t forget to clean as directed so it doesn’t spread mold.

5. Reduce Fever

At times, fevers do accompany colds. Here’s how you should respond to fever, depending on your toddler’s age: 

*IMPORTANT: Do note that you should always consult your doctor regarding administration of medication such as paracetamol. This ensures that you can get the right dosage due to safety concerns especially when it comes to paracetamol

  • below one month of age: ring up the pediatrician, as fevers could be a sign of something serious. 
  • below three months of age: consult or call a medical professional.
  • between three to six months: feed your toddler paracetamol within four to six hours, or use as directed – including using the syringe provided with it instead of a spoon. 
  • above six months old: administer paracetamol within four to six hours OR ibuprofen within six to eight hours. Feeding both drugs could cause an unintended overdose.

6. Pace yourself in feeding solids. 

Your little tot might have lost the appetite for solid food, but it should return over time. But don’t give everything at one go – pace yourself in putting solids back to her diet. The first step should be mild food that’s not too rich like crackers and soups that your tot might fancy.

It’s alright if they are so picky that they’d eat only one food – what matters is that your little one is eating and gaining adequate energy to heal.

7. Don’t force them to eat if they’re ill – let them tell you when to be fed 

An ill child would have a much more scrambled eating pattern than while they’re healthy, so don’t force them to eat if they don’t want to. They’re eating patterns will resume once they get better, but if the lack of appetite continues, do visit a medical professional in case of anything. 

We hope that this article on what to feed a toddler with a cold has helped you. If your child’s symptoms persist for longer than expected, please consult a medical professional for better guidance.

References: webMD, LiveStrong, DesignedtoNourish, Mary Ann Liebert, NCBI (chicken soup, Vitamin C), Cochrane Library

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