Every parent knows the feeling of helplessness when their child falls ill, especially when it’s a tummy bug. These common gastrointestinal infections can often leave your little one feeling under the weather long after the more severe symptoms disappear.
So what steps can you take to help your child return to full health after a tummy bug?
Start by gradually introducing liquids as hydration is key. Diarrhoea and vomiting can lead to fluid loss, which can be dangerous, particularly in young children. Start with small sips of clear liquids and increase the amount slowly over the course of a few days.
Oral Rehydration Solutions (ORS) also work wonders in these situations and you can get some specifically targeted towards little ones. ORS contain a balanced mix of salts and sugars that aid in restoring the body's electrolyte balance, preventing severe dehydration, and promoting recovery.
Whilst it may be tempting to offer just so that your child consumes something, continue to avoid sweet drinks and sugary treats, as these can make the symptoms worse.
If your child asks for food during their active illness, try to remember the anagram BRAT. The BRAT diet consists of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast (without butter or toppings). These bland, easily digestible foods can help soothe the stomach and provide necessary nutrients without aggravating gastrointestinal symptoms.
As your child starts feeling better, gradually reintroduce their regular diet. First introducing soft foods such as mashed potatoes, porridge, and boiled vegetables. Avoid dairy products, such as milk and cheese, until their digestion has returned to normal.
Once their appetite has returned, resume normal eating while still being aware of any potential intolerance. It's important to observe whether any symptoms reappear after consuming a certain type of food.
It's also important to give your child the rest that they need in order to recuperate. Despite the temptation to get your little one up and about so that they don’t miss out on activities, rest is essential for recovery. So take things slowly and allow them to regain their strength at their own pace.
Use this as an opportunity to reinforce the importance of regular hand-washing. Regular hand-washing for you and your little one can reduce the risk of infection further throughout the household. This isn’t to say that bad hand-hygiene caused the virus, it can be contracted by pre-handled food and touching contaminated surfaces.
Check with your doctor
Most children can overcome a tummy bug without the need of medication or doctor’s intervention. However, if the active symptoms persist longer than 24 hours, if they have a high fever or if they’re showing signs of dehydration, seek medical attention immediately.
Remember that every child's experience with a tummy bug is unique, and recovery times may vary. If your child is happy snoozing on the sofa in front of their favourite programme, cater for them. If they’d rather be in a bath or in a dark room, support them. You know your child the best, so don’t hesitate to seek medical advice when necessary.