Feeding Baby When Sick Tips

There is no more helpless feeling as a parent than when babies are sick. Little ones cannot explain why they do not feel well, which can leave parents guessing what is wrong. The worse they feel, the less they want to sleep and the more they cry. And just when parents think they have dealt with it all, their babies stop eating as well. When this happens, parents may need to know how to feed babies when they are sick with some tips and worry-free advice.

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Just like adults, when babies do not feel well, they may lose their appetites. But, because of their size and how quickly a bit of weight loss can show, parents become worried after a meal or two is skipped. And while this can be stressful for parents to deal with, in most instances, as soon as the illness begins to subside, appetites pick up and babies return to their normal happy selves. Something that is hard to see when dealing head-on with infants refusing to eat.

RELATED: Baby’s Congestion: Teething or A Cold?

Here are some tips and worry-free advice for parents for feeding babies went they are sick.


Appetite Loss Is Normal

Be it from an upset stomach, being congested, having a fever, or contracting a sore babies’ appetites may decrease or even be non-existent when they are sick. And while this can cause worry for parents, in most instances, when babies begin to recover, their appetite does as well.

According to What To Expect, when the appetite is lost in babies, it is not “always a bad thing.” This is because if there is a upset upset that has led to vomiting or diarrhea, not eating will give babies’ systems time to recover from all the turmoil it has undergone.

For those who are not eating as a result of other illness symptoms, it could simply be that it is too painful or difficult to eat. If this is the case, when the worst of the symptoms have subsided, the desire to eat should return. For most babies, this should be in approximately 24 hours or less, according to the Mayo Clinic. If the desire to not eat persists longer than this, contacting a healthcare provider is necessary to determine what the best course of action is, per the publication.

Offer Fluids At Regular Intervals

Offering fluids at regular intervals will help to ensure that babies do not get dehydrated. What little ones are offered, however, all depends upon their age.

For babies who are still exclusively breastfeeding, and are under six months of age, breast milk is what they should continue to be offered, according to BabyCenter. However, if babies are over the age of six months, a small amount of water can be offered throughout the day as well.

Babies who are formula feeding should have formula only if they are under the age of six months, per the publication. If older, they too may be offered small amounts of water during the day.

Pedialyte and other electrolyte drinks are something that should never just be given to babies. Instead, if interested in whether the situation calls for rehydrating via electrolytes, a healthcare professional should be consulted to determine if appropriate or not.

Provide Baby With Favorite Foods

When babies have been introduced to solid foods, they may have developed a favorite food by the time they have their first real sickness. If this is the case, then offering them some favorite foods to see if they will stimulate their appetite is an option when trying to get sick babies to eat.

If favorite foods have not yet been established, then according to Accelerated Urgent Care, country foods should be offered. Those foods include:

  • Bananas
  • Rice
  • Applesauce
  • Toast

The foods offered should be appropriate for the eating stage babies are at. Therefore, do not offer foods that babies have yet to try or may be difficult to eat because the fall-out is the last thing that parents will want to deal with when their babies are sick.

Breast Milk Composition Will Change With Illness

One of the first signs that babies are not feeling 100 percent is that there will be a change in breast milk. This may not be apparent for women who do not pump. But, for those who do, there may be a different color to the breast milk suddenly. If so, this indicates a bacteria or virus is in the babies’ systems.

According to Medela, the change in breast milk occurs because of a surge of antibodies in the system. These antibodies help babies to build up their immune system to fight what it is that is making them sick. As such, even if babies are eating very little, if they are getting some breast milk in their diets, they are getting what they need to recover as soon as possible.

Be Prepared For Baby To Be Hungry When Feeling Better

When babies have not eaten for a few days when they are sick, parents should be prepared for when they begin to feel better. This is because they will want to eat much more than usual when over the worst of being sick.


According to What To Expect, when begin to feel better, their appetites will return. For some, it is with a vengeance. As such, it is not unheard of for babies to take a few days to make up for the calories they missed when down for the count with their sickness. Therefore, if babies claim to be hungry, feed them. They will get back to their normal feeding schedule and routine as soon as the illness has completely left their system.

Source: What To Expect, Mayo Clinic, BabyCenter, Accelerated Urgent Care, Medela


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