We’ve seen a lot of patients in our office or via telehealth recently with the dreaded stomach flu. Yuck. The stomach flu is particularly hard on little ones under the age of 3. Their recovery can take longer than older children, teenagers, and adults.
The stomach flu (gastroenteritis) can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. It may also be accompanied by fever, body aches, or headaches. Most cases of gastroenteritis last about 48-72 hours with the worst symptoms typically occurring in the first 24 hours.
Unfortunately for little children (ages 3 and under), a full recovery from the stomach flu can take anywhere from 7-10 days. It is common for our littlest patients to experience irregular stools, an occasional vomit or spit-up, and mild stomach cramps for a week after the initial stomach infection.
4 Ways To Help Toddlers Recover From the Stomach Flu
There are 4 key things you can do to help your toddler’s tummy get back to normal after a stomach bug. Here is what we recommend at Thrive Pediatrics:
1. Daily Probiotic
If your toddler does not take a daily probiotic, now is the time to start. Probiotics will not get rid of the stomach flu, but they will help with the recovery. Once your little one is able to keep down liquids, introduce a powder probiotic. While your little one was having diarrhea and or vomiting, they lost a lot of good bacteria in her stomach that helps with the digestive process.
A probiotic reintroduces good bacteria to assist in digestion as you slowly reintroduce solid food. Your toddler is less likely to experience irregular stools or surprise episodes of vomiting with a probiotic.
2. Avoid Dairy
Dairy products do not help with gastroenteritis recovery time. Your baby’s tummy is likely going to have trouble breaking down the lactose without all that good bacteria in their stomach. So go easy on the yogurt, cottage cheese, and milk for a few days. Reintroduce these slowly after starting your child on a probiotic. You can substitute dairy milk with soy milk or another type of non-dairy, plant-based product.
If you’re a nursing mama or offering breast milk in a bottle, cut back heavily on your own dairy intake for a time until your baby’s tummy calms down.
3. Stick to Bland Solids
Try bananas, bread, rice, applesauce, and toast first. Broth-based soups and crackers are also good choices. Once those are staying down, you can try a lean meat and cooked vegetables. Don’t give your sick child foods that are fried, spicy, fatty, or have a lot of acids.
4. Hydration & Electrolytes
Keep having your toddler or baby drink plenty of water and include some Pedialyte. If you’re breastfeeding, keep yourself hydrated and keep nursing on demand. Don’t hold your baby to a strict schedule. Let your baby drink as they please when they can.
Call Your Pediatrician Immediately
It’s important to note that your young child should never experience persistent, heavy vomiting or diarrhea for 7-10 days. In this article, we are referring only to moderate, irregular stomach activity.
Additionally, if you see blood in their vomit or diarrhea, you need to consult your pediatrician immediately as this is not typical of gastroenteritis. Your child could have ingested something dangerous or this could be signs of a bowel blockage.
Thrive Pediatrics offers same-day sick and telehealth appointments. Schedule your appointment here.