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Vomiting and Diarrhoea


Whether as a result of a viral or bacterial infection or food poisoning, both vomiting and diarrhoea can be serious for babies and young children as they can easily become dehydrated. A child of any age suffering from these illnesses should be kept hydrated by being offered plenty of water to drink. If your child is vomiting frequently, give her a rehydration drink. You can buy these in sachets from a chemist or you can make your own. Make sure that your child sips any drink slowly as sometimes even liquid can precipitate another bout of vomiting.

Diarrhoea often accompanies vomiting. It is characterized by frequent, watery stools and is the body's way of eliminating an unwanted substance or microbe from your child's gut.

If your child is sick and/or gets diarrhoea, avoid all food for 24 hours. Be especially careful to avoid all dairy products, including milk or formula, which will exacerbate the problem as diarrhoea can cause a temporary lactose intolerance. This does not apply to babies who are being exclusively breastfed because their mother's milk does not count as a dairy product. They should be protected from these conditions by antibodies and healthy bacteria present in breast milk anyway. For formula-fed babies, rice milk (available in supermarkets and health food shops) has traditionally been used to treat infant diarrhoea.

Once the vomiting and diarrhoea have abated, introduce foods that will be comforting to your child's digestive system and will help bring them back to full strength. Carrots and apples are traditional remedies for diarrhoea. Rice cakes and white rice act as a kind of nutritional blotting paper and will not irritate the sensitive mucous membranes of your child's digestive tract. Bananas are another good choice of food and will help to replace any potassium lost during the illness. They will also boost your child's energy levels after a bout of feeling weak. Soups and broths are comforting to eat and offer an easy way to help replace vitamins and minerals lost as a result of the illness.

If the diarrhoea or vomiting persists for more than a couple of days, consult your doctor as they may be a symptom of another illness or of a parasitic infection.


Extracted from Immunity Foods for Healthy Kids by Lucy Burney, text 2004, published by Duncan Baird Publishers, London.


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