26 answers

Stomach Flu - Child Won't Eat!

My 17 mo old has the stomach flu that has been going around. He's drinking milk and some water but won't eat a thing. This is our second day now. He ate a handful of dry cereal this morning but no lunch. I've tried crackers and popsicles...could someone please give me some other suggestions? I'm keeping him hydrated as best I can and hoping to avoid an ER trip. I know if I call the doc they won't be able to help me and will just tell me to keep him drinking. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

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Hi AH,

I always worry when my daughter won't eat, but everytime I've asked the Dr about it they always tell me they don't care if they don't eat for a week as long as the child is staying hydrated. I was always told if the child has diarrhea or is throwing up not to give them milk because it makes it worse. I had to switch my daughter to soy milk for about 10 days last year when she was sick. I used vanilla and she didn't seem to mind at all. Have you tried jello, apple sauce, or maybe chicken broth? I wouldn't worry too much if you can help it, one day soon he'll start eating you out of house and home when he's feeling better. Good luck and hope he gets better soon. Oh and my daughter loves the pedialyte juice when she's not feeling well. It does a much better job hydrating when they're not eating, than any other liquids.

My pediatrician always told me that it's fine that they don't eat when they are sick. It's actually harder on their little bodies to try & digest food when they are sick. He said to always offer it to them, but they will know when they are feeling better & are ready to eat. BUT, he also said to just keep pushing the fluids. That's far more important than the food. My daughter's brother in law is a pharmacist. He told her to give the little ones an enima when they are sick like that. She didn't want to, but because my preemie grandson kept getting sick & landing in the hospital dehydrated, she gave in. She is convinced that she's been able to keep him out of the hospital many times because of it. You could talk to a pharmacist/pediatrician about how to do it. I know it's a very small amount, but it's worked miracles on him. I just don't know how to even do that. I just always gave my babies the water, juices, popsicles, bananas, crackers, & avoided milk as much as possible. Good luck!

As long as he's taking fluids, he's doing OK. Just keep him hydrated as best you can, and introduce little bits of Cheerios and toast as he feels better.

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As long as he's taking fluids, he's doing OK. Just keep him hydrated as best you can, and introduce little bits of Cheerios and toast as he feels better.

My 16 month old goes through episodes of not wanting to eat for days. The solution we use is pediasure drinks (packed full of nutrition). When he is sick and not eating much, I also give him a single serving pedialyte electrolyte drink in between cups of milk to make sure he doesn't get dehydrated. He'll eat when he's ready, and we just have to be patient. I hope this helps.

Our household of six went through this...all but my four year old. We all lost weight and the baby (who had it the worst and first) still isn't eating properly. My stomach hurt for about 4 days and I could only eat limited amounts. It came on hard and fast and I think it just really jams up the system! Don't push it. When he feels better, he will eat. He is not going to starve in a couple of days. Offer very bland things, and if he will take it, let him have it. My daughter (16 months) didn't want any of her usual favorites. Finally, bannanas helped, but she kept going between being constipated and having runny diapers! It was crazy. When she finally started feeling better, she started to nibble, but she would only eat 1 or 2 meals a day and no snacks. Milk sometimes makes it worse and if you force the milk they can develop an intolerance (my son has a dairy intolerance). I did very watered down juice. If he will take plain water...that would be best because there is no sugar. It is a pain, but it will pass. I have been exposed to it 3 or 4 times since we all had it, and I haven't gotten it again, so I think once it passes, you are done!

Good luck!

I have for children and we've had our go arounds with the stomach flu. It seems un-natural to not give a baby food for an entire day although the stomach really needs a little time to rest and get over the virus. So a day or so with only pedialyite, popsicles, frozen 7up, etc. is actually doing him more good than harm. Of course keep giving him iquids any way you can..jello, broth, ice chips, and such. Hang in there, it won't last forever.

It doesn't sound unusual for your child not to eat for a few days due to the stomach flu. Concentrate on keeping him hydrated with smaller but more frequent amounts of room temp water and pedialite. Once he is no longer throwing up, start feeding based the BRATT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesause, Potatoes and Toast). Keep him on this diet for several days after until his stomach is ready for regular food then slowly introduce.

try teh b.r.a.t. diet

bannana
rice
applesauce
toast

for the dehydration--use pedilight

The best thing u can do is keep him drinking clear liquids. As for food if he doesn't want to eat try not to force him. As for suggestions maybe try jello or just things that are clear and not too harsh on his tummy.

I know it's hard to make them eat or drink when they don't feel well, but you know how important it is. Try Pedialite (I think I spelled it correctly. There are also pedialite popsciles that the little ones some times suck on, or if that doesn't work, just try plain popsciles even if they do have sugar, or make your own out of juice.

Hi AH,

I always worry when my daughter won't eat, but everytime I've asked the Dr about it they always tell me they don't care if they don't eat for a week as long as the child is staying hydrated. I was always told if the child has diarrhea or is throwing up not to give them milk because it makes it worse. I had to switch my daughter to soy milk for about 10 days last year when she was sick. I used vanilla and she didn't seem to mind at all. Have you tried jello, apple sauce, or maybe chicken broth? I wouldn't worry too much if you can help it, one day soon he'll start eating you out of house and home when he's feeling better. Good luck and hope he gets better soon. Oh and my daughter loves the pedialyte juice when she's not feeling well. It does a much better job hydrating when they're not eating, than any other liquids.

My daughter just had this about one month ago, and she is just 17 months, as well. I didn't end up taking her to the dr., just emailed my doc and she said since it was a low grade fever, just watch and make sure there are no signs of being dehydrated (chapped lips are a good sign) or especially lethargic action is a sign of a child being really sick. They told me it was most likely viral because it is going around, and that viral illnesses can last 7-10 days before they peter out, and they can't do anything. My girl had it for three days...she didn't eat either, but drank milk and water pretty well. If you are sick, do you feel like eating? Me neither. But, of course, you are the mom and know your child. If you need to go get a check up, GO.
Oh, don't stay away from milk. Dairy products are very calming to the digestive system and easy to digest. (Like yogurt and milk)

Keep doing what you are doing. Hydration is the most important thing right now. As soon as your son starts to feel better, he'll be hungry and will then be able to stomach food. Stay patient. Good luck and I hope he feels better very soon!

According to my mom in law who specializes in nutrition, digesting food is one of the hardest things for your body to do and it takes a lot of energy. So, the body is being normal by not being hungry when someone is sick. The body needs to use as much energy as it can to heal, so it may just be sending "i'm not hungry" signals to your child's brain. Also, in a sickness like that, I think all they really need is liquid and it's completely normal not to eat. I actually think what your child has already been able to keep down is pretty amazing. I'm not an expert though so if you have any strong bad feelings about your child's condition, you may want to check it out. Good Luck.

One think u need to stop doing is giving him milk. When kids are sick milk sometimes makes them feel worse. And it can sour on their stomach. U should try pedialite. Thats really good for them and keeps them hydrated. But honestly when a child is sick you dont need to worrie about them eating. They will eat when they feel hungry and they wont starve themselves. And your right the doctor will only tell you to keep them drinking plenty of fluids cause thats all you really need to worrie about if they have a fever. Hope this helps. Mother of a 6 year old daughter

Stay away from the milk. Stick with clear liquids. Don't try to push the dry food very much. She'll let you know when she's ready for that. Just concentrate on small sips of liquid every few minutes. You'll feel like you have a sippy cup glued to your hand. You might see if she will suck the juice from an orange that has been quartered.

It looks like you've gotten some great advice, but I want to add one thing that our pediatrician told us. Plain water from the tap does nothing for the system to hydrate when you're not eating. They recommended the Pedialyte for my daughter who is still recovering, but since she hates that stuff, we got Smart Water or Water Plus because both have the electrolytes the body needs during this time. I hope your little one gets well soon. This is such a nasty bug that's going around.

No Milk!!
Water,Ice chips,Pedialyte,Popsicles, crackers,toast,
flat soda and lots of rest a little Tylenol to take the edge off.

Try jello that is not set firm yet. Have him drink it from a cup.

well to be honest i would try soups and broths just not so many solids for a while and keep in contact with the doc.

Stay away from milk! The best suggestion I got from my pediatrician was to give them a teaspoon at a time of the sugary water that canned fruit comes in (not the light kind-the kind with all the sugar). It always works for my kids. I do a teaspoon every 15 minutes or so, after a couple of hours, usually they can drink a little gatorade, pedialyte or sprite (depending on their age)
Good luck-the stomach flu is the absolute worst! Hang in there.

One of my friends had a dd who got the stomach flu a few years ago..she did end up dehydrated ---- but she wasn't drinking fluids either--- she continued to be sick dispite trips to the ER for IV....

I don't write that to scare you...BUT what finally HELPED was the liquid from canned peaches (natural liquid not the stuff that has sugar added)

I don't really remember 'why' this works. But her dad swears by it and keep canned peaches in the house during flu symptoms.

The other trick to recovery from any stomach bug is to take things in = in very small amounts. (A teaspoon of liquid versus a 4 ounce cup/bottle)

Here's to a speedy recovery and no one else in your house catching it!

My pediatrician always told me that it's fine that they don't eat when they are sick. It's actually harder on their little bodies to try & digest food when they are sick. He said to always offer it to them, but they will know when they are feeling better & are ready to eat. BUT, he also said to just keep pushing the fluids. That's far more important than the food. My daughter's brother in law is a pharmacist. He told her to give the little ones an enima when they are sick like that. She didn't want to, but because my preemie grandson kept getting sick & landing in the hospital dehydrated, she gave in. She is convinced that she's been able to keep him out of the hospital many times because of it. You could talk to a pharmacist/pediatrician about how to do it. I know it's a very small amount, but it's worked miracles on him. I just don't know how to even do that. I just always gave my babies the water, juices, popsicles, bananas, crackers, & avoided milk as much as possible. Good luck!

Definatly stay away from milk it will go sour in the stomach. my Daughter is now 9 years old the first year of her life was spent mostly in the ER hydrating her due to a milk allergy we did not know she had. She would vomit for hours after only a taste. Room temp slightly flat original Coca Cola has an agent in its syrup that helps settle the stomach. Give in small sips here and there. Keep an eye on how often you child urinates and give pedialyte popsicles to hydrate or even gatorade..Don't force feed him though if anything leave a cracker or 2 by the bed to be nibbled on if he is feeling up to it. Also keep a close eye on his temp. to ensure he does not run a high fever and you can alternate between doses of tylenol with Motrin. But check with your pediatrician before doing this. This is what mine has said to me in the past and it did help. If all else fails look up a 24 hour nurses line in your area they will ask for symptoms and be able to advise you from there.

Mine also just went through the stomach flu only I tried to make her eat before I realized that she was sick. I wish I had listened to her. These little ones know their bodies so well. If he doesn't want to eat, don't force him. As long as he is staying hydrated, he will be ok. They get enough calories from the liquids to keep them going. Keep offering the crackers and anything light that he will eat along with those clear liquids. I would stay away from the milk though. Sometimes it is better to have something in that little tummy when they do get sick so that they aren't doing the dry heaves. Also, we had a doctor tell us once to give them Kool-aide instead of pedialite, just dilute it in half with water. It is fortified with vitamin C and it doesn't have any more sugar in it then the pedialite but cost a fraction of the price. Once he starts show interest in food again, take it slow with good old chicken noodle soup and crackers and work up to things like grilled cheese and then the normal foods. Just listen to his cues and he will tell you what is ok or not. Good luck.

You might try getting him a new sippy cup with a character he likes to encourage him to keep drinking. Hang in there!

My daughter just went through the same thing over the Christmas Holiday. I was told by the ASK-A-NURSE at Shawnee Mission Hospital and the pharmacist at Walgreens to keep them as hydrated as possible. Milk, juice, fruit, acidic foods all make it worse. They said water and/or pedialite with some crackers. My daughter ate after about the 5th day. They will eat when they are hungry. Remember, when your stomach is upset, you don't feel like eating either.

Hang in there. It will get better, I promise.

Hi A H,

My kids also went through this a few weeks back. So here is my advice
1) if she hasn't stopped the vomiting then do not give her any food or liquids until it has stopped for 24 hours.
2) You first want to start with clear liquids like gatorade, water and popsicle, you can even give her chicken broth to replenish the salts she has lost. If she keeps that down move on to dry foods like toast and crackers and dry cereal.
3) If you are at the poinjt that all of the vomiting has stopped and are back on the mend of eating again then follow the BRAT diet. This is B=BANANAS, R=RICE,A=APPLESAUCE AND T=TOAST. Watch the applesauce though it can give them diarreha and send you the wrong way.
4) If she is running a fever or even a mild one give her tylenol and motrin and alternate between the both of them. If you time it right and give it to her early enough you should be able to give her tylenol twice during the day and motrin once and then give her motrin again before she goes to bed.
But if it is the samething my kids had milk and milk products made it worse. These things continue to feed the virus and keep it going. If you are going to give her anything close to milk or dairy make sure it is SOY, this will stop feeding the virus.

My kids had the vomiting for about 4 hours and then diareha for another week. It took us 2 weeks to get completely better.
Also you may want to go through and clean all of her toys with bleach and water. Not just her toys but anything she may have come in contact with, chairs, chair legs, tables, etc.
I'm a home child care provider and all of my daycare kids and my kids got it. The only 2 that didn't was myself and my older son. My husband got it and he is at work all the time. We were surprised when he came down with it. You should also wash all her bedding in hot water. I know it seems a little excessive but anytime any of my kids get sick or daycare kids, the parents and I go through and disinfect everything tob to bottom. We have kept our sicknesses to almost nothing this year. The only time they have been sick was when they had this exact thing. We also disinfect everything once a month.

Hope this helps you, W.

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