When a toddler doesn't feel well, she will let you know it. She may be grouchy, act sluggish and lose her appetite. If your 21-month-old has come down with a cold, you have to let it run its course, but in the meantime you can make her as comfortable as possible and ensure she is getting enough to eat and drink.
What Toddlers Need
Toddlers can be picky eaters even when they're not sick, so its no surprise that they may not want to eat when they are under the weather. When he's healthy, your child needs to eat three well-balanced meals and two healthy snacks per day. When it comes to serving size, FamilyDoctor.org recommends giving kids one tablespoon of each food you are serving for every year of his age. So, your 21-month-old would get around one to two tablespoons of each food. When he's sick, he will likely have less of an appetite and not eat as much. There is no need to force him to eat because he will eat when his body needs the calories, according to the website, What to Expect.
Push the Fluids
When your toddler refuses to eat when she's sick, it's important to offer her plenty of fluids to drink. Serve her water or a 100 percent juice that has been diluted with water to decrease the sugar content. Varieties like grape and apple are soothing, while citrus juices may irritate a sore throat, notes WebMD. Milk is another good choice since it provides your toddler with extra calories, fat and protein. Just avoid caffeinated or sugary drinks and remember that your toddler needs approximately four to five cups of fluids from foods and drinks every day.
Foods To Try
If your little one won't drink, try getting him to eat some soothing foods that help keep him hydrated, such as gelatin or frozen treats. Opt for sugar-free or 100 percent fruit juice varieties of frozen treats, or make your own with real fruit juice. Soup is another suitable option, since it works well at breaking up chest congestion and may fight inflammation. Make eating more fun by allowing your toddler to drink his soup with a straw and cutting his gelatin into silly shapes with cookie cutters.
Watch for Dehydration
If you are concerned that your toddler is not getting enough fluids and nutrition, watch out for signs of dehydration. These include listlessness or sleepiness, crying without the production of tears, dry mouth and excessive fussiness or crying that is not normal for your little one. Additionally, keep track of her wet diapers or the number of times she uses the potty if she is potty training already. If she is urinating less than usual, it can be a sign of dehydration. Contact your child's pediatrician if you suspect she is dehydrated or if you have any other concerns about her illness.