Recommended Diet for Children with Gastroenteritis

Recommended Diet for Children with Gastroenteritis
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Reviewed and approved by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 04 November, 2022

In this article we’ll share a list of foods that are suitable for children with gastroenteritis, and ones that are restricted.

If your child is suffering from the symptoms of gastroenteritis, you should stay away from certain foods for a few days.

Gastroenteritis is nothing more than intestinal inflammation. Like many other diseases, it occurs frequently in children.

When it occurs, it is wise to take certain care to facilitate recovery. In this article you’ll find information on the recommended diet for children with gastroenteritis.

Children may suffer from stomach pain from time to time. Some suffer from constipation, diarrhea, fever and even vomiting.

If these symptoms persist and recur with certain frequency, the child may be suffering from gastroenteritis.

As parents, we should know how to identify the symptoms in order to know when to consult their pediatrician as soon as possible.

Causes of gastroenteritis in children

Although it can occur at any time of the year, gastroenteritis is most common during spring and summer and its cause is mostly viral.

Gastroenteritis can also be triggered by the following factors:

  • Bacterial infection: This may be caused by a baby bottle that isn’t properly washed or contact with other children. The most common causes of this kind of gastroenteritis are salmonella and campylobacter.
  • Food allergies: Some foods may not be accepted by the child’s body, causing problems in their digestive tract.
  • Inflammatory diseases.

Although it isn’t seen frequently in young children, gastroenteritis can also be caused by ulcerative colitis, hyperthyroidism, Crohn’s disease and other disorders.

Can it be prevented?

The truth is there aren’t too many precautions to take. Since we’re dealing with viruses and bacteria, the best thing parents can do is reinforce hygiene measure s.

In the case of gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus, there are vaccines that can help immunize the child.

In terms of food preparation, it’s best to avoid raw foods. If you offer your child fruits, make sure they’re washed and peeled.

Recommended Diet for Children with Gastroenteritis

Here are some points that should be considered when it comes to children with gastroenteritis:

  1. Hydration is essential

Due to the symptoms that we mentioned previously, this affection can lead to dehydration. It is a leading cause of infant mortality in developing countries.

Dehydration can be detected if you notice that the child is urinating less than usual, if their lips are dry and if they have sunken eyes.

If you notice any of those symptoms you need to hydrate the child immediately. If the child is still nursing, you should offer them breast milk every hour.

In the case of older children, you can offer them re-hydration salts in small amounts. After a few hours the child can return to water consumption.

“There are not too many precautions to take to prevent gastroenteritis. The best we can do is to reinforce hygiene measures.”

  1. Replace solid foods with soft foods

While suffering from gastroenteritis the digestive system is found in an anomalous situation. It cannot process food as it usually does.

That’s why the recommended diet for children suffering from gastroenteritis is full of soft foods.

There are certain foods that should be eliminated from their diet altogether for at least five days. The following should be avoided:

  • Fats
  • Fritters
  • Dairy products
  • Candy
  • Acidic products

Rice water is a fantastic option to jumpstart recovery as it has numerous benefits. It’s easy to digest and its starch content promotes the recovery of the stomach and the irritated intestines.

Rice water also contains natural sugars which help recover lost energy.

Lactose-free yogurt is another good option. It can help recover lost intestinal flora. It also provides nutrients that can help the child eliminate the infection.

Lactose-free yogurt isn’t recommended until the child stops with the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.

  1. Slowly return to their normal diet

With medication and proper care, your child will regain their appetite. Keep in mind, however, that they shouldn’t return to their normal diet abruptly.

Recommended Diet for Children with Gastroenteritis

First you should incorporate foods that are both nutritious and easy to digest. Toast is a very good option.

Other good options include: slow-digesting carbohydrates such as pasta (without sauce) and rice.

Their diet shouldn’t be lacking in fruit. You can make purees to prepare them before returning to solid foods. Try to avoid sweet juices and those that have a laxative effect such as plums and kiwis.

Finally, you can start reincorporating meats in small portions. The meats to start with are chicken and fish which can be accompanied by vegetables and eggs.

If the child responds well, they’ll be able to resume their normal diet very soon.

As you can see, diet is an important factor when it comes to the recovery from gastroenteritis. Try to implement the necessary measures and be attentive to symptoms.

If they don’t subside consult the child’s pediatrician.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Dimidi E., Christodoulides S., Mark Scott S., Whelan K., Mechanisms of action of probiotics and the gastrintestinal microbiota on gut molility and constipation. Adv Nutr, 2017. 8 (3): 484-494.
  • Gavin M. L. Gastroenteritis (gripe estomacal o intestinal). Nemours Children Health. Septiembre 2021.
  • Hartman S., Brown E., Loomis E., Russell HA., Gastroenteritis in children. Am Fam Physician, 2019. 99(3): 159-165.
  • Mayo Clinic. Gastroenteritis vírica (gripe estomacal). Enero 2022.
  • NHS. Diarrea and vomiting. National Health Service of Scotland. Diciembre 2020.
  • Weir SBS; Akhondi H. Bland diet. [Updated 2022 Julio 25]. In: State Pearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): State Pearls Publishing, 2022 Jan.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.