4 Tips for Helping Your Child Through Diarrhea

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Just this past week, I’ve had to deal with my first having bouts of diarrhea and some vomiting. Thankfully, it hasn’t been a severe case; it’s been spread out over a few days and he didn’t lose his appetite. But it got me thinking about ways my mum used to help me through sickness, as well as tips I’ve picked up chatting with other parents and perusing the internet. It can be overwhelming and difficult when your little one is sick, so I thought I would put a few tips in one place and try to help you make your child’s illness go a little smoother and hopefully faster.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. The following tips are based off of my own experiences and should not be considered as medical advice. If you are in any way concerned for your child’s health, please consult your health care provider.

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1: BRAT- Bananas, Rice, Applesauce & Toast

I’ve heard from parents, child care workers and also read online, that this is a really good food guideline when dealing with vomiting and diarrhea. After doing a bit more research though, it seems like the jury is about 50/50. Some websites say the four bland, low fibre foods are effective in reducing diarrhea, while being gentle on the stomach. But other sites say not to only use these foods because of the lack of nutritional value.

I like using relatively bland foods for settling my kid’s stomach, but I wasn’t so restrictive with his food. I still gave him meat, vegetables and other fruits, I just kept it simple:

  • toast with a thin layer of Vegemite
  • crackers and plain breakfast biscuits
  • diced pears and apples (my first doesn’t like the texture of applesauce)
  • plain chicken breast
  • cut up carrot
  • grated green apple left to go brown before eating (this one sounds a little weird, but it worked for me when I was young)
  • flat lemonade (another one from my youth, it’s a nice sugary flavour hit)

I like to avoid dairy (milk and cheese mainly), because it can sit a bit funny in my first’s stomach when he is unwell. But when he is on the mend, I give him yoghurt for all that good tummy stuff.

I think when giving food to your unwell child, you just need to choose it at your own discretion. If your little one isn’t keeping anything in, try bland foods like toast and rice so there is at least something in their stomach. If your child is like mine and has most of their appetite but is just a little unsettled, try to keep their diet pretty much the same, but avoid strong flavours, like spices and citrus and maybe dairy too.

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2: Hydralyte & Electrolyte Products

The main thing to do when your little one is sick is to keep up their fluid levels and water is perfect for this. If they aren’t keeping any food in at all, try giving them only fluids for a little while. You can get hydralyte drinks and icy poles at chemists in a few different flavours: these are good at preventing dehyrdation and replacing fluids and nutrients that get lost with vomiting and diarrhea. Sugar free sports drinks from the shops are high in electrolytes and are another good option too. Coconut water has naturally occurring electrolytes and is easily digested too, so this is great option if you would prefer something a bit more natural.

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3: Hygiene

This one seems obvious but is probably far from your mind when dealing with a sick and miserable little one. The last thing you want though is for you and the rest of the family to catch those nasty bugs.

  • Make sure your kid washes their hands with warm, soapy water after any toilet trips (you too if you are helping!)
  • Try to regularly clean the toilet and bathroom while they are sick- don’t forget the buttons on the toilet, doorknobs, taps, soap dispenser and anywhere your little one could have touched between the toilet and bathroom.
  • If you have disinfectant spray this makes killing germs easy. I didn’t have any, so after wiping everything down with an all-purpose cleaner, I wiped everything over with vinegar. Tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil are other good options.
  • If your child has been bedridden for a few days, give them some clean sheets. Even if they haven’t made a mess, laying on fresh sheets is always a lovely feeling.

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4: Fresh Air & Sunlight

This is another one that can be overlooked. I know that when you have been stuck inside for a few days with a sick child, the last thing you want to do is go out- but I’m not talking about actually leaving the house. You don’t have to travel anywhere; grab a blanket and lay out on the grass in the sun and read books, or play with some blocks. You will be amazed at how great it is spending some time in the warm sun and fresh air. If you can’t go outside, open up the blinds and windows and get that sunlight and fresh air flowing through the house.

It’s hard when your little one is sick and you feel powerless to help them. The best thing to do is just be there for them and try to make them as comfortable as possible. Most stomach bugs only last a few days and kids are great at bouncing back; you will wonder if they were even sick when they are jumping and running up and down the hallway.

What things do you remember your parents doing for you when you got sick?

Do you do the same things for your kids, or are there some things that you do differently?

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