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If your bundle of joy has a cold and cough, it must be really hard for you to see him suffer. Your child may have a poor appetite during this time and he may even refuse to eat. But not getting adequate nutrition can slow down his body’s natural response to fight infection. You must make sure that he eats the right food to get him immune system back on track. Read this article to find out which foods you can give (and avoid) to your child when he has a cold or cough.
Recommended Foods for Cough and Cold for Infants, Toddlers, and Children
Giving nutritious foods to a baby which can be digested easily by him would be the best option. Here are some foods you should include in your child’s diet if he has a cough or cold:
1. Breast Milk
If you have a newborn or a baby below six months of age, breast milk will be the only source of nutrition for him. Breast milk, being a good source of antibodies, can strengthen the immune system of a child. Check to see if your baby is congested before you start feeding your child, as congestion can prevent your infant from feeding adequately.
2. Barley Water
Suitable for infants who are at least six months old, barley water is a great remedy for fever, cold, and cough. However, it is not suitable for children with gluten allergy and caution must be exercised if a family member has such an allergy. This is because the allergy might have been passed on to your child and you could be still unaware of this fact.
Also known as stewed apples, these are easy-to-digest and can help a baby stay hydrated. They come in handy during a cough and cold as they replenish the body’s fluid supply.
4. Rice Water or Gruel
Recommended for babies who are above six months of age, rice gruel is a soothing home remedy for a cough and cold. Rice water boosts the immunity of a child thereby helping him combat any infection.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of nutrients and strengthen the immune system. They also help the body in producing white blood cells. Sweet potatoes can be consumed in the form of porridge or you can mash and puree them for your little one aged six months and above.
Carrots have medicinal properties and eating carrots can enhance the immune system and keep away bacteria and viruses. You can steam and mash the carrots to give it to your baby. You can also puree them or make carrot soup. However, give it your baby only if he is above six months of age.
7. Pomegranate Juice
The antioxidants in pomegranate juice can help subdue your child’s cold. Make pomegranate juice and add a bit of pepper powder and dry ginger powder to it. Give it to your baby if he is 6 months or older. This juice will help provide him relief from a cold and cough.
8. Moong Dal Porridge
Moong dal porridge is a wholesome and filling food for babies suffering from cold. It can be given during lunch or dinner. Suitable for children seven months and older, it is a soothing dish that you little one will enjoy.
9. Curd Rice
If your child is over eight months of age, you can feed him curd rice with a little seasoning of ginger and cumin seeds any time he is unwell. If your child has a cough or a cold, ensure that the curd you serve him is at room temperature and not too cold or sour.
10. Idli and Dosa
Steamed idli and dosa make great comfort food and can be given to kids when they are unwell and don’t feel like eating. You can give idli or dosa at any time of the day to your child if he is eight months or older. You can also offer chutney or some homemade jam as a dip.
11. Sabudana Porridge
Sabudana is also known as sago; it is a good source of starch and can give your child a dose of energy. As it easy to digest, it is a preferred choice for children when they are sick. You can make sabudana porridge, serve it with vegetables, or you can simply give the water. It is good for babies aged seven months or older.
Rich in antioxidants, broccoli is a good pick for combating infections. It energizes the body’s immune system and is suitable for children over eight months of age. You can make broccoli soup or puree for your little one. He will soon feel better.
13. Tomato Soup
Almost all of us like tomato soup; it is tasty and healthy. And the good thing is that it can be even given to children older than eight months of age. It constitutes a healthy dose of Vitamin C – you can mix some mashed rice in it before offering it to your baby.
14. Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes taste delicious and can be quite filling for a baby. Made from boiled potatoes, they usually appeal to children of all ages and can be introduced from eight months onwards.
Being soft food, it can be swallowed easily, especially if a child has a throat irritation or pain. It can be made without milk to speed up the digestion process when a baby is sick. Dalia can be given to babies who are eight months and older.
16. Citrus Fruits
Drinking orange juice or lemon juice can help prevent cell damage while easing congestion and thinning out mucus. Make the juice with lukewarm water and add a dash of honey. It is generally recommended for children who are one year or above.
17. Turmeric Milk
A little turmeric powder mixed in warm milk with a dash of pepper acts as a natural antibiotic and can cure a cold as well as throat infection in babies who are one year or above.
18. Mushroom Soup
The health benefits of mushrooms are plenty, and their ability to keep infections away is well known. You can give warm mushroom soup to your baby; it is great comfort food for toddlers with a cold and cough. It is usually given to children who have attained the age of one.
19. Poha or Beaten Rice
It is soft and can be chewed by babies easily. Poha is also easy-to-digest and makes for a filling meal, especially for a child who is unwell. You can give poha to your child if he is 1 year or older.
20. Tulsi Water
Tulsi or Indian basil can provide relief from a cold and cough. Boil a few leaves of tulsi in half a litre of water for about 5 minutes. Strain and give it to your child. You can give it to babies above 6 months of age.
21. Garlic Lentil Soup
Just like rice water, dal ka pani is good for babies. But if your baby is suffering from a cold and cough, you can give him garlic and lentil soup. Garlic has antiviral properties and can boost the immune system. Its antiviral properties can prevent infections as well as speed up the healing process.
22. Ajwain Water
Giving ajwain water can also provide relief from cough and can clear chest congestion. Boil a tablespoon of carom seeds in water for some time. Let it cool then strain the liquid, then give it to your baby at regular intervals.
Foods to Avoid During Cold and Cough
There are certain foods that you should avoid including in your child’s diet if he has a cold and cough. This is because some fruits and vegetables are likely to have a cooling effect and can lead to respiratory infections. These include:
1. Refined Sugar and Sweets
Too much sugar is not good for anyone, especially for babies and toddlers. Hence, sugar and sweets laden with sugar should not be given to a child when he has a cold or cough.
2. Dry Fruits and Nuts
Your child may find it hard to chew or swallow dry fruits and nuts if he has a cold or cough. There is also a risk of pieces getting stuck in his throat if he coughs while eating. So it’s best not to give dry fruits and nuts. However, you can give them in powdered form – add the powder to his milk and porridges when he is sick.
3. Spicy and Oily Foods
Spicy or oily food can irritate the throat and worsen your child’s cough and cold. Thus, it is best to not give them to your kiddo.
Tips to Feed a Child Suffering From a Cough and Cold
If your munchkin is unwell, he is bound to get cranky and may fuss while eating. Here are a few things you should keep in mind to make sure he gets the required nourishment:
- Babies aged six months and younger should be breastfed or can be given formula if they have a cold and cough.
- Babies who are 6 months and above should have frequent small meals instead of big meals thrice a day.
- If your baby’s doctor prescribes oral rehydration solution (ORS) to your toddler, be sure to give it to your child as and when required.
- If your baby does not want to eat something, give him what he wants to eat. Do not force-feed your sick child.
- If your baby is above six months of age, make sure he stays hydrated. Offer him different types of fluids. These can include water, milk, broth, and fresh fruit juice made with slightly warm water.
These are just some general guidelines you should follow if your child is down with a cold or cough. However, if there are symptoms like wheezing or ear pain, then it is best to consult a doctor immediately as it can be an ear infection or something more serious. Also, do not introduce any new foods when your baby is ill as these can aggravate the symptoms or cause allergies, worsening the matters. Consult your doctor if your child’s condition doesn’t improve over a couple of days. Since dehydration is a possibility because of infections, so keep an eye on your child, note these early signs to ensure you can get your child the help he needs immediately.