Whenever the kids are sick with a cold, the flu, or another virus, we want to offer to help them feel better. These are my top best foods for sickness to soothe, comfort, and nourish when we’re not feeling our best.
Foods for Sickness
It can be so hard to help kids when they are sick, especially when they don’t yet have the tools to tell us exactly what they want or need. And since there are certain foods that can help us feel at least a little better—nourished, comforted, and soothed—when we don’t feel our best, I am putting them all together here for you to reference.
Remember that appetite can dip during and after an illness, and that liquid intake is the most important thing. Check in with your child’s pediatrician, of course, and use these ideas as needed to help the kids feel a little bit better.
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Drinks for Sick Kids
Keeping kids hydrated is key when they have a cold, the flu, or another virus or illness. Water (for older babies and toddlers), breastmilk, formula, and milk (for toddlers) are great places to start. If you need more ideas—especially if the kids aren’t interested in plain water—there are more flavorful options below to consider.
Use this easy method to make fresh, delicious strawberry juice in just 5 minutes without a juicer. The juice has simple ingredients, vitamin C, fiber, and yummy flavor—and stores really well.
Learn the quick and easy method to make fresh and delicious Watermelon Juice at home with just one fresh ingredient—watermelon! It’s a vitamin C-packed way to hydrate the kids. (And you don’t even need a juicer.)
Favorite Toddler Smoothie
This yummy toddler smoothie method is simple to blend up and even easier to customize for breakfast or snack time. It’s a perfect smoothie for kids since it’s naturally sweet, loaded with nutrition from fruit and veggies, and tastes great! The master recipe can be customized in 10 easy ways.
Easy Fruit Slushie
Here’s refreshing homemade Fruit Slushie that you can make with just 2 ingredients in a matter of minutes. They’re a great way to stay hydrated and serve up nutrients in a delicious form!
Easy Soups to Make for Sickness
Nourish the family with an easy soup, particularly these favorite soups for kids. They are easy to make, easy to eat, and really cozy and nourishing. All of them can be made ahead and reheated, or made in the moment. Adjust for your family with chicken broth or vegetarian stock as you prefer.
The shape of the tiny pasta, or pastina, is so fun, and the rest of the ingredients add plenty of cozy flavor. I love how fast this soup for kids cooks up, how easy it is to adjust (sometimes I omit the onion and use more carrot, for example), and how much it helps us all feel satisfied and nourished.
Cook up this cozy Alphabet Soup recipe next time you want an easy meal that’s also fun! ABC pasta is a perfect addition to this kid-friendly soup—and you can tailor the veggies to the likes (or dislikes!) of your own kiddos. It’s so versatile!
With an easy cooking method— minimal chopping and less than 30 minutes start to finish—this Minestrone baby soup (that big kids will love, too!) is a favorite comfort food meal to share. It’s easy to adjust for allergies as needed, and it is packed with yummy flavor.
Butternut Squash Apple Soup
All of the ingredients in this Butternut Squash Soup go into one pot and are simmered until soft. Then you simply need to blend it up to make it creamy. It’s so super easy, and no fancy or unusual ingredients are required.
Easy Meals for Sickness
Cooking for kids when they are ill and need your attention is seriously impossible at times, so take whatever shortcuts you need—whether that’s prepared foods, takeout, or the easy meal ideas listed below.
Blend up a fruit or veggie with an egg for the fluffiest, easiest, healthy pancakes for kids. These 2-Ingredient Pancakes use one simple method for all 4 flavors and are a perfect baby pancake or toddler pancake.
Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Made with just four simple ingredients, these nutritious Cottage Cheese Pancakes are a healthy breakfast for kids you can make in under 10 minutes! They’re loaded with protein and healthy fats—and are also fluffy and delish.
I love this since it’s serious comfort food, and it can be topped with all sorts of additional flavor boosters for adults—so we can all happily share the meal.
Homemade Granola Bars
Homemade Granola Bars are one of my go-to healthy snacks for kids. They’re super easy to make, require minimal added sweeteners, have a texture that even babies and younger toddlers can chew, and store SO well. And you can make them allergy-friendly as needed, too!
This method, which involves simply simmering diced apples into homemade applesauce, is fast and delivers consistently great results. You can store these pouches in the fridge to serve as a side or snack, or you can pop them into the freezer to thaw one at a time on future days.
Easy Snacks for Illness
Use my Master List of Toddler Snacks for easy ideas for each food group, or find our favorite easy snack ideas below when the kids are sick.
- Cereal such as Cheerios, Kix, or Chex
- Leftover pancakes (the ones shown above are Pumpkin Pancakes)
- Diced-up fruit
- Applesauce pouch
- Snack bar
product we love
Amara Smoothie Melts
These brightly flavored melts are quick-dissolve and seriously yummy — perfect for babies and toddlers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Comfort foods may vary from person to person, but liquids and easy to eat foods such as crackers, buttered noodles, simple soups, and smoothies may be enjoyed most.
You can help the kids feel nourished during a fever with simple soups, warm water with honey mixed in (for kids over age 1), and anything that they’re interested in. There’s no one right answer here.
You can use caffeine-free teas like roobois or warm water and stir in lemon juice and honey for kids over age 1 for a soothing warm drink.
What to Eat After Being Sick
Appetite often takes time to recover, so don’t stress if it’s still lower than usual even after the kids return to normal. Keep serving regular meals and snacks in smaller portions then usual and give them time to get back to normal.
We follow the Division of Responsibility, so I decide the what, where, and when for the meal and the kids decide which foods they want and how much. I try to include 1-2 foods they usually like in each meal and remember that predicting their appetite is very hard.
It’s OK if they eat more or less than I expect at any given meal.
Best Tips to Remember
- Focus on liquids and helping the kids to stay hydrated. Keep an eye on wet and dirty diapers and note any sudden decreases to your child’s pediatrician.
- Keep foods simple and in smaller portions, and offer more according to appetite.
- Remember it’s normal for appetite to decrease during and after an illness.
- Give it time for eating to return to normal.
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