As a parent or caregiver, having a sick toddler with diarrhea can be incredibly stressful and worrisome, not to mention a big inconvenience. Offering your young child the right foods is an easy, at-home step you can take to support their symptoms and speed up recovery.
Why Does My Toddler Have Diarrhea?
Some of the most common causes of toddler diarrhea include food sensitivities, a diet high in sugar (hint: fruit juice is a big culprit), or an unwanted intruder aka one of the many germs your little one is exposed to daily.
If your toddler is experiencing diarrhea and also exhibiting signs of dehydration such as decreased urination, extremely low energy or weakness, or crying without tear production, a visit to your pediatrician is in order. Other symptoms that warrant a doctor’s visit include bloody, black or tarry stool, and/or a fever above 102 degrees.
What to Feed a Toddler with Diarrhea
Much like older children and adults, toddlers need bland, easy-to-digest foods when they have diarrhea. They might not be interested in eating much at all, which is a normal response to digestive upset and you certainly don’t need to force them to eat. Their little bodies are wise beyond their years and often know when food is not needed. The key is to offer simple foods that are high in nutrients.
One of the best options to offer is a homemade bone broth as it is a very easy-to-digest food that provides amino acids that can help to heal the gut, support proper digestion, and boost the immune system. Bone broth can be easily made at home – simply combine beef or chicken bones, apple cider vinegar, water and any veggies your child enjoys and cook on low for 24 hours. Check out one of our favorite easy-to-follow recipes. Your toddler can sip the broth like tea throughout the day or you can blend it into a soup. Keep some on hand in the freezer for when unexpected cases of diarrhea or other illnesses pop up.
Other nutrient-dense foods for supporting toddler diarrhea include:
- Unsweetened applesauce: Applesauce contains a compound called pectin, a type of soluble fiber that works as a prebiotic in your gut
- Bananas: Bananas are high in potassium, which is a key electrolyte lost when you have diarrhea. The kid-friendly fruit also contains resistant starch, a type of starch that helps your body form short-chain fatty acids which stimulate sodium and fluid absorption.
- Unsweetened coconut water: Unsweetened, natural coconut water is an excellent natural source of electrolytes, and is especially high in magnesium and potassium.
Foods to Avoid
Fruit juice is not recommended for toddlers with diarrhea due to its high fructose content, which can further irritate the digestive system. It’s best to stick to pure water and unsweetened coconut water to keep your child hydrated. Foods that are overly fatty, greasy or spicy could also worsen diarrhea, so it’s best to avoid these as well.
You may also consider keeping extra support on hand, such as DiaResQ, a food for special dietary use that can help rapidly restore normal intestinal function and soothe your child’s diarrhea. A unique combination of nutrients and immune factors, DiaResQ helps support the body during diarrhea and is safe for children as young as one.
If your toddler seems to have diarrhea frequently, an undiagnosed food sensitivity could be the cause. Common food irritants include dairy, gluten, soy, sugar, and artificial ingredients. If you suspect a food sensitivity, work with your pediatrician or a nutritionist to undergo food allergy testing and/or an elimination diet.