Your sick toddler may not feel like doing much when she's sick, including guzzling fluids, but that doesn't make hydration any less important. Fever, diarrhea and vomiting can all lead to dehydration, which causes additional discomfort and makes it harder for your little one's body to fight off whatever is making her sick. To maintain proper hydration, your tyke should drink a minimum of 2 ounces of a commercial rehydration solution every hour, according to HealthyChildren.org. Heavily diluted fruit juice, flat ginger ale or sports drinks are alternatives, but the high sugar content of these fluids can make diarrhea worse, warns KidsHealth.org.
Your toddler might not be excited about drinking from his standard sippy cup, but introduce a crazy straw or letting him sip his beverage from a water bottle like the "big kids" and he might change his mind. Add a few drops of blue or green food coloring to turn pale orange electrolyte fluids or sports drink into something special. For older toddlers, try freezing electrolyte fluids in an ice tray with toothpicks stuck in the center for tasty icy treats.
Your toddler may be more likely to cooperate if drinking fluid makes her feel like she's participating in something, rather than following an order. Enlist the help of your partner and any older siblings and give everyone cups of water. Form a circle, raise your plastic cups in cheer and have everyone take three big gulps of their drink. You can also tell your toddler that you and she are going to take two big sips together on the count of three, making it into a game.
Small and Steady
If your toddler feels truly horrible, the idea of gulping anything won't seem appealing. Even if your little one has mastered sipping from an open "big kid" cup, letting her sip rehydration solution from a sippy cup allows her to drink in small amounts while reclining on the sofa with her blanket. Another option is to deliver 2 ounces of fluid in the same spoon or syringe you'd use to administer pain medication, though this requires your toddler to sit up.
Your tyke probably won't be interested in much activity when he's feeling sick, but setting sipping intervals helps motivate him to keep up his fluid intake. Start reading a story and explain that he has to take a sip of his drink before you turn the page. Watch a movie and pause it periodically for a "sipping break," gently noting that to resume the movie, all he has to do is take two or three big sips of his drink.