Is your child's frequent trips to the toilet leaving him dehydrated? Don't worry. Read on to know more about seven foods that will give relief when your child has diarrhoea.
By Dr Neha Sanwalka Rungta
When five-year-old Subham complained of stomach pain one night, his mother Seuli Biswas was worried. The pain was followed by numerous trips to the toilet as Subham was suffering from a bout of diarrhoea, and by next morning, the little boy was feeling tired and sapped of all energy. Some quick thinking by Seuli, who gave her son some coconut water, ensured that he felt relieved.
Diarrhoea is a condition in which there is a passage of loose or watery stools. Children who have diarrhoea may lose a lot of fluid and feel weak. At such a time, it is important that they get the right foods, which do not worsen their condition. Parents are often in a dilemma about what to feed their child who is suffering from diarrhoea.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child should resume a normal, well-balanced diet appropriate for her age within 24 hours of falling sick. However, along with a balanced diet, incorporating these 7 foods can help your child recover faster. Here they are:
1. Oral Rehydration Solution or ORS:
Severe diarrhoea causes excessive fluid and electrolyte loss from the body, and can result in dehydration. ORS, recommended by the World Health Organization, consists of an appropriate ratio of electrolytes and glucose that enables better fluid absorption in the intestines. The presence of potassium in ORS is good for the fluid replacement. Hence, ORS is preferred over plain water when your child is suffering from diarrhoea. Make sure you use filtered or boiled and cooled water to make the ORS. Follow instructions as given in the packet. Encourage your child to drink as much as he can.
2. Tender coconut water:
Apart from ORS, tender coconut water is another good source of potassium and helps in replenishing the fluid loss. Give it to your child to increase fluid and electrolyte absorption, and prevent diarrhoea-induced dehydration.
In some children, diarrhoea is often caused by infections. Curd, which is rich in probiotics (good bacteria), suppresses the germ-causing bacteria and cures diarrhoea quickly. Hence, it is a good idea to include curd in children's diet when they suffer from diarrhoea - one bowl of curd for children aged eight months to two years and two bowls of curd for children who are two years and above. For older children, you can encourage them to have at least two bowls of curd daily in their diet.
One of the most easily available fruits, banana should always be a part of a child's diet, especially when she is passing watery stools. A rich source of potassium, banana helps restore the fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. It reduces weakness and boosts energy. Banana is also a good source of resistant starch that further helps absorb water and salt in the large intestine, making stools firmer and reducing diarrhoea.5. Apple stew:
Apple stew is a good food to include in the diet of children suffering from diarrhoea, especially infants and toddlers. Apples are a rich source of fibre, especially pectin, which helps absorb water and firms up stools to give relief from diarrhoea.
Gluten, a protein found in wheat, can worsen diarrhoea in some children as it is difficult to digest. Hence, instead of wheat, rice is a better choice of grains for children suffering from diarrhoea. Since rice is low in fibre and protein, it is easy to digest and should be included in the child’s dietary intake, to meet energy requirements.
Vegetables, as well as chicken soup provides essential minerals and some vitamins that help maintain fluid and electrolyte balance, and prevent weakness in children suffering from diarrhoea. It also provides much-needed energy.
Even though these foods are known to be beneficial in diarrhoea for children, it is always advisable to consult your paediatrician for treatment.
Dr Neha Sanwalka Rungta is a Paediatric Nutritionist, who has specialised in Neonatal and Paediatric Nutrition. She is also the Director of NutriCanvas.
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