Staying Hydrated When Sick: 5 Ways to Help Your Child Get Enough Fluids

Staying Hydrated When Sick: 5 Ways to Help Your Child Get Enough Fluids

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You can help your child stay hydrated during illness with a few simple strategies.

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A child lies in bed drinking out of a red cup.

FEB. 29, 20244 MINUTE READ

When your child is sick, it's natural to worry about them — especially if they're not drinking as much as you know they should be. But it can be difficult to know whether your child is taking in enough fluids to replenish losses, and it can be just as hard to get a sick kid to drink anything.

This article will review the signs of mild to moderate dehydration in children and explore how to keep kids hydrated when they aren't feeling well.

How Does Illness Affect Hydration in Children?

Anytime there's extra fluid loss in children (or adults, for that matter), it's important to rehydrate to replace those lost fluids. Fluid loss may be obvious, such as when a child is vomiting or has diarrhea, or it can be more subtle. For example, when your child has a runny nose, they're losing fluids. And when they have a fever, their increased body temperature can cause more fluid loss than usual due to water (in the form of sweat) evaporating off their skin to help cool it down.

Younger children are at higher risk of dehydration than adults because they have faster metabolisms. They also may not be able to communicate their thirst to their parents or may be less apt to drink fluids due to lethargy or a sore throat.

Signs of Dehydration in Children

Dehydration may be easier to spot than you think. Keep your eyes open for any of these tell-tale signs of mild to moderate dehydration in your child:

  • Dry, parched or cracked lips
  • Deep-set or sunken appearance to the eyes
  • Lack of tears while crying
  • Decreased amount of urine or lack of urine output
  • In infants, a sunken "soft spot" on the top of the head

How to Keep Kids Hydrated

Young children typically don't understand the concept of dehydration, and they're not likely to be motivated to drink water just because you tell them to. Sometimes parents need to get creative in order to help sick children take in plenty of fluids. Here are some ideas that might help with staying hydrated when sick:

  • An electrolyte drink is a great solution for helping children stay hydrated while sick. Plain water is good, but a key component of proper rehydration is replenishing the nutrients lost through sweating, vomiting and diarrhea. Pedialyte®, for example, has an optimal balance of glucose and sodium to restore fluid and electrolyte losses for fast, effective rehydration.

  • Most kids love popsicles. If drinking liquids is becoming a challenge, Pedialyte® also comes in the form of freezer pops. Pedialyte® Freezer Pops are a great option for sick children who aren't interested in or able to drink fluids or who may be craving something cold. They provide both fluid and key electrolytes that can help little patients rehydrate.

  • If your child hasn't touched the glass of water on their bedside table, try serving up a broth-based soup such as chicken noodle in a special cup. You can also give them veggie, beef or chicken broth in a fun cup and throw in a silly straw in their favorite color.

  • Offer your child warm tea, such as peppermint or chamomile. Having a teddy bear tea party might encourage some children to drink up.

  • Spa water is for kids, too! Slice up strawberries, cucumbers or lemon and add it to your child's water to give it a flavor and color boost. Berries also work well.

Consider trying a combination of these approaches to help ensure your child is getting consistent fluids throughout the day while they're sick.

Monitoring Your Child's Hydration Status

The best way to monitor your kid's hydration status is to assess their urine output. An infant or young child should urinate at least six times per day; less frequent urination may be a sign of inadequate fluid intake.

People of all ages should have clear, pale or straw-colored urine. Urine that's strong in odor or color is an indication of mild dehydration. Dark or amber-colored urine (or lack of any urine output at all) may be a sign of severe dehydration and means you should call your child's pediatrician right away.

Article originally published March 8, 2023.

Treating Symptoms of Stomach Flu | Abbott Nutrition

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Every flu season you probably stock up on tissues and cough medicine, but how prepared are you for the stomach flu? Even though the respiratory flu and the stomach flu share the same season, they are very different illnesses. "Stomach flu symptoms really come down to digestive issues such as cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea," says Jennifer Williams, M.P.H., a research scientist at Abbott. While the stomach flu can strike at any time of year, 80 percent of cases will hit from November through April in the U.S. And, just like the respiratory flu, it's especially contagious.

This 7-step plan can help manage stomach flu symptoms and keep your family safe.

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What to Eat When You Feel Sick

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On average about 8% of the U.S. population gets sick from flu each season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For many of them, eating is the last thing they’ll feel like doing. It’s common to feel this way, and your symptoms can drive down your appetite. Congestion can also accompany the flu and this can limit your sense of smell, which is linked to your taste buds, so a decrease in appetite may also be caused by your inability to taste foods. It’s okay to eat a little less when you’re fighting the flu, but you'll still need small amounts of the right foods and drinks to make sure you’re fueling your body with the energy and nutrients you need to recover and regain your strength. So even if you don’t want to eat, it’s important that you at least try to eat some of these immune-supporting foods

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