Foods to give sick and recovering babies

It’s the time of year when little ones tend to always have runny noses, coughs, and all kinds of bugs they pick up from childcare or older siblings (or goodness only knows where!), including flu, gastroenteritis, HFMD (hand, foot, and mouth disease), and now COVID.

Illness is inevitable given that children spend time playing near one another, plus they have a tendency to put everything in their mouths! They will get several infections throughout the year because their immune systems are not fully developed.

While most illnesses aren’t serious, it’s heartbreaking seeing a baby unwell. As a parent, all you want to do is comfort and care for them until the nasty illness goes away.

Sometimes we just have to wait it out and give them plenty of cuddles, rest, and fluids (breast milk or formula on demand), while offering small and regular meals (for the bubs on solids). First, you might like to read our article on common illnesses in babies so you know what to look out for and what you need to know about each one. The three most effective ways to stop the spread of these infections are vaccination, keeping them home when they’re sick, and hand washing.

Here we look at a list of foods and meal ideas to offer a sick and recovering babies from illness:

Meal ideas to give sick and recovering babies

For colds, coughs, and flu

  • Fruit purees
  • Soups, such as chicken noodle or tomato
  • Citrus fruits
  • Warm, comfort foods, such as casseroles or pasta dishes
  • Reminder that babies can’t have honey under 12 months of age

Diarrhoea or gastro

  • Clear fluids, such as broths or very diluted juices
  • Plain rice or rice crackers
  • Ripe bananas
  • Apple puree
  • Sips of water or oral rehydration solution (over 6 months of age) regularly
  • Plain toast


  • If they don’t have much of an appetite, you might like to increase the calories with added avocado or butter
  • Sore throat (such as tonsillitis and HFMD)
  • Smoothies, such as one of these 5 simple and nutritious smoothie recipes for baby
  • Homemade ‘nice-cream’ (which is just blended frozen fruit)
  • Soft foods such as purees or porridge
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Watermelon

Follow these guidelines for feeding your sick baby

1. Prioritise fluids

It’s important that your baby drinks plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Offer fluids frequently throughout the day, even if it’s just a few sips. If they have fewer wet nappies than usual, talk to your doctor.

2. Give them their favourites

If your baby’s appetite is a bit off, they may only want bland food such as pasta or bread. If they only want milk and apple puree, so be it. It’s not the time to be too concerned about them having a variety of foods, as long as they’re consuming something.

3. Avoid pressuring baby to eat

It might go against your instincts, but if they’re refusing to eat anything, don’t force it. You may find that they make up for it once they’re feeling better!

Once your little one is starting to recover, you might like to try some of these delicious and simple recipes for babies from 6 months onwards:

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