Thursday, October 23, 2014
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What to feed your child after a stomach virus

Though many symptoms of the viruses improve within 24-48 hours, it sometimes takes up to a week for the stomach and intestines to fully recover, and re-introducing foods at the right time can help to prevent further irritation. So find out the rules for re-feeding here.

What to feed your child after a stomach virus

Along with the winter dip in temperatures, also comes a rise in seasonal viruses. With a widespread flu outbreak this year, children are at an even higher risk of coming in contact with a virus that will keep them from school. Though the occasional stomach virus is likely inevitable, knowing what to feed your child shortly after a virus can help them bounce back and recover more quickly.

A viral gastroenteritis, or “stomach flu”, occurs when a virus infects the lining of the stomach and/or small intestine, causing symptoms of nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and fatigue. After prolonged vomiting and diarrhea, the lining of the stomach and intestines become irritated, and change the ability of the body to digest and absorb food and beverages.

Though many symptoms of the viruses improve within 24-48 hours, it sometimes takes up to a week for the stomach and intestines to fully recover, and re-introducing foods at the right time can help to prevent further irritation.

The rules for re-feeding:

  1. Be Patient: A virus needs to take its course, so wait about 2 hours after the last episode of vomiting before offering your little patient anything to drink.   
  2. Hydration is essential, food is a bonus: Children can go a few days without eating much solid food, but can become severely dehydrated much more quickly. Once the vomiting has subsided, start with sips of clear liquids like water, rehydration solutions, sports drinks, or clear diluted juices. Ice chips, Jell-O, and non-dairy popsicles also help to rehydrate.
  3. Slow and Steady: Most children can start with bland, solid foods about 4-6 hours after tolerating clear liquids. Offer one item at a time, in very small portions. The chart below gives an example of the best foods to try. Start with Stage 1, and then move forward through Stages 2 and 3. Slowly re-introduce the “Foods to Avoid” items several days after all symptoms are resolved.
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Stage 1- Clear Liquids

Stage 2- Bland Foods

Stage 3- More Complex

Foods to Avoid

Water

Oral Rehydration Solutions

Sports Drinks

Diluted Clear Juices

Broth

Flavored Gelatin

 

Saltine Crackers

White or refined grain toast or bread (Plain or with Jelly)

White Rice/ 

Noodles

Applesauce

Bananas

Baked Potato

Lean baked meats

Well cooked vegetables

Broth Based Soups

Sorbet

Fried Foods

High Fat Foods

Spicy Foods

Caffeine

 Dairy (due to lactose)

The above advice can never take the place of an evaluation by your child’s health care provider, but hopefully, they will help your child be on the mend soon after illness. Keep washing your hands, and have a safe and healthy winter.

- By Beth Wallace

About this blog
Anna Nguyen Healthy Kids blog Editor
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A. Temple University Hospital
Peter Bidey, D.O. Medical Director of Family Medicine at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Christopher C. Chang, MD, PhD, MBA, FAAAAI, FACAAI Associate Professor of Medicine in division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology at UC Davis
Mario Cruz, M.D. St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Drexel University College of Medicine
Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D. Lead Psychologist - The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic, CHOP
Magee DeFelice, M.D. Division Chief of Allergy and Immunology at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Gary A. Emmett, M.D. Director of Hospital Pediatrics at TJU Hospital & Pediatrics Professor at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
Hazel Guinto-Ocampo, M.D. Nemours duPont Pediatrics/Bryn Mawr Hospital
Rima Himelstein, M.D. Crozer-Keystone Health System
Jessica Kendorski, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D Associate Professor in School Psychology/Applied Behavior Analysis at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Anita Kulick President & CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting
Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA VP for Programs & Research for Prevent Child Abuse America
Beth Wallace Smith, R.D. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
W. Douglas Tynan, Ph.D., ABPP Director of Integrated Health Care for American Psychological Association
Flaura Koplin Winston, M.D., Ph.D Scientific Director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention
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