By Christina VanGinkel
Flu season is here. Little ones especially are at risk of dehydration from the stomach upset so prevalent with just about any strain of the flu, and keeping fluids in your child can be a battle. Over the counter products such as Pedia Care, which are specifically for helping with this serious side effect of any stomach illness, are your most effective choices after checking with your primary physician. If you find yourself at home though, with none of the wonder products that work so well, there are still things you can do to help your little one battle the bugs. A note of caution here though: The flu is nothing to take lightly, and if you even think your child is not taking in and retaining enough fluids to keep them healthy, head to the nearest emergency room. Do not try to wait it out, or think that there is nothing the hospital can do to help. The flu can be extremely dangerous and suggestions here are only for the mildest of cases, and for general stomach upset in little ones. It is not meant as a replacement for medical attention by a physician.
Flat soda, such as lemon lime or ginger ale, in small amounts will often be received well by children. Flat is better in my opinion because the bubbles may cause unneeded gas in the belly. If they are old enough to have an opinion about flavor, ask them what they would like. My youngest son swears by flat cola products when his stomach is bothering him. Even young children, as long as they are old enough to vocalize their wants, can tell you what they might want. Trying something they are willing to have a go at is a lot better than trying to get them to eat or drink something they have no interest in at all. Even if it is something, you might not normally associate with giving someone with a sick stomach, such as tomato soup or juice. Liquid nourishment is liquid nourishment is how I try to look at it. I remember my son asking for a bottle of fruit drink called Bug Juice. I thought that it would surely come up as fast as it went down, but whether he was at the end of his stomach upset or it just was what he needed, it did stay down, and after drinking about a quarter of a bottle, he slept like baby and woke up feeling much better.
Popsicles and freezes are also choices that are often met with good reception by an ill child. Small single servings of Jell-O are good to try if they feel as if something a bit more solid would be better, or if they are small, and you are spoon-feeding them, Jell-O is a good way to entice them to at least try to open their mouths for a bit of nourishment. The Jell-O is a good source of hydration as it is mainly liquid.
Again, if something a bit solid is desired, the old standby by of saltines is just as good today as when we were kids. Serve with some chicken broth to get the needed fluid into the child.
Remember that oftentimes with an upset stomach, that less is more, especially at first. If you try to get them to drink too much, and they become ill, nothing will have been gained by their drinking. If you manage to get a spoonful or two into them every ten minutes though, and it stays down, it will add up over an hour's time. If your child is still at the age where they are drinking mostly formula or milk for their liquids, be sure to discuss alternatives, such as the Pedia Care, with a physician. In the meantime, try water, or a light soda such as lemon lime, as some liquid is better than no liquid at all. Small children can dehydrate quickly, so do not hesitate to try to get something other than formula or milk down them even though that may have been all they have been drinking. Water should always be a part of their diet anyways, so it realistically should have been introduced before they are ever ill with something like a stomach bug.