Best Foods for Sickness – Yummy Toddler Food

Best food for sick kids in multiple containers on countertop.

Whenever the kids are sick with a cold, virus, or the flu, it can be hard to know what to offer to help them feel better. These are my top best foods for sickness to soothe, comfort, and nourish when we’re not feeling our best.

Best food for sick kids in multiple containers on countertop.

Foods for Sickness

It can be so hard to help kids when they are sick, especially when they don’t yet have the tools to tell us exactly what they want or need. And since I know there are certain foods that can help us feel at least a little better—nourished, comforted, and soothed—when we don’t feel our best, I am putting them all together here for you to reference.

You’ll find foods to help soothe a sore throat, easy meals to make when appetite is low, drinks for kids, soups for kids, and easy snacks.

Remember that appetite can dip during and after an illness and that liquid intake is the most important thing. Check in with your child’s pediatrician, of course, and use these ideas as needed to help the kids—I hope—feel a little bit better.

(You may also like my posts on Elderberry Syrup for Kids, Probiotics for Kids, and Vitamins.)

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Smoothie and yogurt containers on countertop.

Drinks for Sick Kids

Staying hydrated is key when the kids have a cold, the flu, or another virus or illness. Water (for older babies and toddlers), breastmilk, formula, and milk (for toddlers) are great places to start. If you need more ideas—especially if the kids aren’t interested in plain water—there are more flavorful ideas below to consider that may help.

(We sometimes also do juice or Ice Pops if we’re really struggling with intake of hydrating foods.)

Strawberry juice in mason jars with yellow straws

Strawberry Juice

Use this easy method to make fresh, delicious strawberry juice in just 5 minutes without a juicer. The juice has simple ingredients, vitamin C, fiber, and yummy flavor—and stores really well.

Favorite Strawberry Juice

Learn how to make fresh, delicious strawberry juice with simple ingredients. The easy recipe yields vitamin C, fiber, and yummy flavor.

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Strawberry juice in mason jars with yellow straws
watermelon-juice-in-mason-jars

Watermelon Juice

Learn the quick and easy method to make fresh and delicious Watermelon Juice at home with just one fresh ingredient—watermelon! It’s a Vitamin C-packed way to hydrate the kids. (And you don’t even need a juicer.)

Easiest Watermelon Juice (to Share with the Kids)

This is a perfect way to use up some of a giant watermelon and is also a wonderful way to help the kids stay hydrated in the warmer months. You can scale the recipe up or down to make more or less as you like.

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watermelon-juice-in-mason-jars
toddler-smoothies-in-mason-jars

Favorite Toddler Smoothie

This yummy toddler smoothie method is simple to blend up and even easier to customize for breakfast or snack time. It’s a perfect smoothie for kids since it’s naturally sweet, loaded with nutrition from fruit and veggies, and tastes great! Plus: The one master recipe can be made 10 easy ways.

Favorite Healthy Toddler Smoothie (with Veggies!)

Learn to customize yummy smoothies for your toddler by starting with one simple recipe, then adjusting based on which fruit and veggies you’d like to use.

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toddler-smoothies-in-mason-jars
homemade fruit slushie with berries

Easy Fruit Slushie

A refreshing Homemade Fruit Slushie that you can make with just 2 ingredients in a matter of minutes. They’re a great way to stay hydrated and serve up nutrients in a delicious form!

Easy Fruit Slushie (5 Flavors!)

Made with just two simple ingredients, these fruit slushies are super delicious and refreshing. They’re a great drink for warm days! Plan to freeze the apple slices, grapes, and watermelon cubes the day before (or at least in the morning) when you want to make these.

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homemade fruit slushie with berries
Butternut squash soup in various containers.

Easy Soups to Make for Sickness

Nourish the family with an easy soup, particularly these favorite soups for kids. They are easy to make, easy to eat, and really cozy and nourishing. All of them can be made ahead and reheated, or made in the moment. Adjust for your family with chicken broth or vegetarian stock as you prefer.

Pastina soup in numerous bowls with spoons and sides.

Pastina Soup

The shape of the tiny pasta, or pastina, is so fun, and the rest of the ingredients add plenty of cozy flavor. I love how fast this soup for kids cooks up, how easy it is to adjust (sometimes I omit the onion and use more carrot, for example), and how much it helps us all feel satisfied and nourished.

Quick Pastina Soup

With just a handful of simple ingredients, you can make this cozy Pastina Soup to share with the kids in under 30 minutes. Look for little star “pastina” pasta in the pasta aisle.

Get the recipe

Pastina soup in numerous bowls with spoons and sides.
alphabet-soup-in-blue-bowl

Alphabet Soup

Cook up this cozy Alphabet Soup recipe the next time you want an easy meal that’s also fun! ABC pasta is a perfect addition to this kid-friendly soup—and you can tailor the veggies to the likes (or dislikes!) of your own kiddos. It’s so versatile!

Favorite Alphabet Soup

You can use ABC pasta, orzo, pastina, or ditalini—or any other very small pasta shape in this Alphabet Soup recipe. And you can start with fresh or frozen veggies. See below for options.

Get the recipe

alphabet-soup-in-blue-bowl
three-bowls-of-minestrone

Minestrone Soup

With an easy cooking method—with minimal chopping and less than 30 minutes start to finish—this Minestrone baby soup (that big kids will love too!) is a favorite comfort food meal to share. It’s easy to adjust for allergies as needed and it is packed with yummy flavor.

Extra-Veggie Minestrone Baby Soup (for Big Kids too!)

With a streamlined method and a quick cooking time, this veggie-packed baby soup (that big kids and parents will also enjoy!) is filled with vegetarian protein and super yummy Italian flavors.

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three-bowls-of-minestrone
Butternut squash soup in various containers.

Butternut Squash Apple Soup

All of the ingredients in this Butternut Squash Soup go into one pot and are simmered until soft. Then you simply need to blend it up to make it creamy. It’s so super easy and no fancy or unusual ingredients are required.

Easy Butternut Squash Apple Soup

With a quick cooking method and the creamiest texture, this easy Butternut Squash Apple Soup is a family favorite. It is great for babies on up to adults, is dairy-free and packed with vegetarian protein, and just tastes so good. We love this with buttered toast or crackers.

Get the recipe

Butternut squash soup in various containers.
cottage-cheese-pancakes-on-fork

Easy Meals for Sickness

Cooking for kids when they need your attention due to illness is seriously impossible at times, so take whatever shortcuts you need—whether that’s prepared foods, takeout, or the easy meal ideas listed below.

2-ingredient-pancakes-4-flavors

2-Ingredient Pancakes

Blend up a fruit or veggie with an egg for the fluffiest, easiest, healthy pancakes for kids. These 2-Ingredient Pancakes use one simple method for all 4 flavors and are a perfect baby pancake or toddler pancake.

The Best 2-Ingredient Pancakes (Baby and Toddler Approved)

This recipe makes one small batch of super tender 2-Ingredient Pancakes. It usually makes 1-2 little-kid-size servings. To make more, simply double the recipe. These are delicate pancakes with a texture that’s sort of custardy like French toast, so be gentle when flipping them. See the NOTES at the bottom for the flavor variations.

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2-ingredient-pancakes-4-flavors
cottage-cheese-pancakes-on-fork

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Made with just three simple ingredients, these nutritious Cottage Cheese Pancakes are a healthy breakfast for kids you make in under 10 minutes! They’re loaded with protein and healthy fats—and are also fluffy and delish.

Easy Cottage Cheese Pancakes (to Share with the Kids)

These 4 ingredient pancakes are packed with nutrients and are so yummy. Double the ingredients to make a larger batch to feed a family of four as this recipe is on the smaller side.

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cottage-cheese-pancakes-on-pooh-plate
buttered noodles in two bowls with sides

Buttered Noodles

I love this since it’s serious comfort food, and it can be topped with all sorts of additional flavor boosters for adults as we like—so we can all happily share the meal.

Favorite Buttered Noodles

I have all kinds of easy ways to incorporate veggies into pasta dishes for kids, but some days, we just need the classic and comforting option of Buttered Noodles. This is my go-to method for the creamiest, easiest buttered pasta to share with the kids.

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buttered noodles in two bowls with sides
stack-of-homemade-granola-bars

Homemade Granola Bars

Homemade Granola Bars are one of my go-to healthy snacks for kids. They’re super easy to make, require minimal added sweeteners, have a texture that even babies and younger toddlers can chew, and store SO well. And you can make them allergy-friendly as needed too!

Easy Homemade Granola Bars

We like to have these granola bars as a snack or toddler breakfast with milk or a smoothie—and they’re an excellent lunch box component too. You can make them plain or choose a flavor to add!

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stack-of-homemade-granola-bars
homemade-applesauce-pouches-on-counter

Applesauce Pouches

This method, which involves simply simmering diced apples until soft on the stove into homemade applesauce, is fast and delivers consistently great results. You can store these pouches in the fridge to serve as a side or snack, or you can pop them into the freezer to thaw one at a time on future days.

Favorite Applesauce Pouches

Learn the easiest way to make a batch of Applesauce Pouches, with six flavor options, in less than 30 minutes. This is easy, delicious, and versatile—and a perfect way to batch-prep a snack or meal component.

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homemade-applesauce-pouches-on-counter
Foods in bowls and bar in wrapper on countertop.

Easy Snacks for Illness

Use my Master List of Toddler Snacks for easy ideas for each food group, or find our favorite easy snack ideas below when the kids are sick.

Sliced fruit and squeeze pouch on countertop.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best foods to eat when you have the flu?

Comfort foods may vary from person to person, but liquids and easy to eat foods such as crackers, buttered noodles, simple soups, and smoothies may be enjoyed most.

What are the best foods to eat when you have a fever?

You can help the kids feel nourished during a fever with simple soups, warm water with honey mixed in (for kids over age 1), and anything that they’re interested in. There’s no one right answer here.

Can I give tea to kids?

You can use caffeine-free teas like roobois or warm water and stir in lemon juice and honey for kids over age 1 for a soothing warm drink.

Pastina soup in numerous bowls with spoons and sides.

What to Eat After Being Sick

Appetite often takes time to recover, so don’t stress if it’s still lower than usual even after the kids return to normal. Keep serving regular meals and snacks in smaller portions as you usually would and give them time to get back to normal.

We follow the Division of Responsibility, so I decide the what, where, and when for the meal and the kids decide which foods they want and how much. I try to include 1-2 foods they usually like in each meal and remember that predicting their appetite is very hard.

It’s okay if they eat more or less than I expect at any given meal.

Best Tips to Remember

  • Focus on liquids and helping the kids to stay hydrated. Keep an eye on wet and dirty diapers and note any sudden decreases to your child’s pediatrician.
  • Keep foods simple and in smaller portions and offer more according to appetite.
  • Remember that it’s normal for appetite to decrease during and after an illness.
  • Give it time for eating to return to normal. It often takes time to get back into the normal routine.

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