I thought I would share a little bit about our experience returning to life after our toddler's first bout of gastro.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that my daughter is an amazing eater, not picky and eats a variety of multi coloured fruits and veggies. I'm not ashamed to say I take a lot of pride in this, and I hope she is always adventurous with her cuisine. However, transitioning her back to normal food after being sick worried me immensely. Would she only want dry crackers and toast for ever? Would she go back to eating veggies after three plus days without food?
I figured that if I had these anxieties, I probably wasn't alone. So, I decided to share a few things we have tried and worked well for us. I wrote this post over the course of a week as we navigated these new waters, and man it has been challenging!
Feel free to take bits and pieces that suit you and your children. Some of our movements were deliberate, others were trial and error.
1. BRAT diet:
Bananas, rice, apples and toast.
These are great places to reintroduce food to your toddler, or anyone recovering from gastro quite frankly. I grew up with this method and I swear by it to this day. These foods are gentle on the tummy and bland, which is easy for digestion.
Dry toast is a good place to start, and you can always add topping as you go. I added a little bit of honey to my daughter's toast to entice her to eat it, but also to help get her sugars up since they were so low from severe dehydration. Honey is great for antioxidants and is also antibacterial.
* Honey IS NOT RECOMMENDED for children under the age of one.
Other ideas are to progressively add to the toast as time goes on. For instance, maybe a thin spread of calcium dense tahini and then mashed banana on top.
Not a fan of plain rice? Add grated apple into the rice for some sweetness.
Do they find bananas boring? Slice them up and sprinkle them with a few chia seeds.
2. Avoid Dairy
Avoid milk and dairy for the first few days. You may want to see your child eat again, no matter what it is, but things like whole milk, sugary foods, soda and candy can all worsen diarrhea.
3. Keep Fluids Up!
Do whatever you can to keep those fluids up!
Our daughter refused water off and on for about two days after we left the ER which was pretty stressful. After a follow up with our GP, he suggested using a syringe to give her water and gave us a 6ml syringe to take home. She loved it! I guess it was the novelty of something different, but it worked for us. You don't need to go to the doc to get your hands on one, you can simply use the ones you have to administered medicine like Tylenol. Just make sure it's washed well and cleaned after each use.
4. Stick To The Rules
This might divide the crowd, but so be it. Once my daughter started to eat again, I assumed she would keep eating normally. This wasn't the case sadly. For instance, one morning, just a few days after her sickness, she surprised me and had toast, a scrambled egg and a few tablespoons of yogurt. That afternoon she didn't eat any lunch or dinner! I was confused and frustrated because I didn't know why she was putting up a struggle. Did she not like what I offered? Was this the opportunity for her to finally be picky? Or was she still not feeling fantastic and couldn't communicate that to me?
The following night I made a veggie quinoa salad and salmon (her fav). She didn't eat the meal, so I packed it up and put it away in the fridge. An hour later she said she was hungry, so sticking to our rules, I re-offered what she had, not something else. She gagged on the salmon and my mouth nearly hit the floor. Gagging on her fav food of all time- I was so perplexed! Clearly she wasn't ready for that taste, texture smell or whatever. Instead of offering her a sugary sweet or something else, she was fine with water and going to bed. I don't offer her other food if she has refused what was given at dinner, because once you start making substitutions to appease your children, you'll never be able to stop.
5. Reintroduce Dairy Slowly
When you do decide to reintroduce dairy, start small... think baby steps. We started with gut healthy kefir and greek yogurt in tiny doses a few days after her episode.
6. Keep Offering The Norm
Even though she was hit and miss on some meals, I kept offering her what she would normally like on her usual Love Mae tray, as if nothing had ever happened. Consistency is key in my experience. This did mean a lot of food was put back in the fridge, and some stuff was sadly thrown out.
Don't just offer the norm, but stick to the normal schedule too. If your toddler can still sit at the table and watch you eat your meals, this is a good thing. When she wasn't eating, I'd still keep my daughter in her high chair at meal time and let her play with play dough while I ate.
7. So what shall I make?
1. The BRAT diet mentioned above is always a good start
2. If normal finger foods are a challenge, you can't go wrong with bone broth or a heathy soup. Creamy and smooth for the pickier kids during this sensitive time, or chunky if they can tolerate it. You can transition to pouring the homemade soup over some simple, kid-friendly pasta as time progresses.
3. Smoothies are great as well because you can make them with veggies and/or fruit. You also don't need to add any dairy to them. I made my daughter's recovery smoothies with water for added hydration.
In all honesty, she didn't really return to her normal, food loving veggie eating ways until about 8/9 days after she was admitted to hospital. So don't lose hope parents! This was a big surprise for me, but I'm happy that we are back to normal now.
Have you had a similar experience? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
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