Are Cold Drinks & Foods Bad For Kids When They’re Sick?

Are Cold Drinks & Foods Bad For Kids When They're Sick?
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Most parents hate to see their children suffer when they don’t feel well. In fact, we usually bend over backwards to take care of our sick children in the hopes that it will help them feel better. While that sometimes means it’s time to whip up your grandma’s chicken noodle soup recipe or start a kettle on the stove for a cup of tea, it can also mean asking your child what food to eat. or what drink suits him best.

Unfortunately, some people think you can’t give your child something cold to eat or drink when they’re not feeling well. While there are obviously some items you should avoid, cold items have just as many benefits as hot items.

RELATED: Why does hot food help us feel better when we’re sick?

Certain cold foods and drinks may help

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via Unsplash / Providence Doucet

When someone in our house is sick, many of us grab chicken noodle soup and a cup of tea to clear things up. These items often help soothe a sore throat, clear up congestion, and even keep someone’s nose from drying out. However, there are times when cold food and drink can also help someone who is sick.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, liquids and food products that contain a high amount of water can be great for a dehydrated sick child. These items include water, Jell-O, popsicles, applesauce, and pudding. Additionally, cold drinks that contain electrolytes and other vitamins, such as juice or sports drinks, can also help a child whose illness is causing dehydration.

Also, cold foods and drinks are soothing to the throat, which can be helpful for a child struggling with strep throat or an extreme cough. Likewise, children who struggle with nausea or other digestive issues may find it helpful to eat cold, low-smelling things, such as popsicles, yogurt, or frozen fruit.

Of course, if your child has a fever, the MacKoul Pediatrics team says they’ll likely benefit from chilled foods and drinks as well. Things like Gatorade, milk, and fresh fruit can really help boost the immune system, and the cool temperature of foods and drinks will help your child relax a bit more.

What foods and drinks to avoid

boy sitting on sofa drinking cold orange juice

Although most cold foods and drinks are okay when your child is sick, there are always exceptions to every rule. While these “rules” largely depend on your child’s specific symptoms, there are a few things that are prohibited, regardless of their illness.

According to, you may want to avoid citrus fruits and orange juice when your child is sick. These fruits contain a lot of essential vitamins, but the acidity often upsets the stomach and even the throat. For this reason, it’s not really a good idea to give your child citrus fruits or pour them a cup of citrus juice while they’re sick.

Avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks as much as possible when your child is sick, as these often dehydrate your child rather than provide relief. Also, you should not give your child milk or dairy-rich foods if he is suffering from extreme vomiting or nausea, as these types of items can even intensify the symptoms. And, most importantly, never give your child anything cold just to make them feel comfortable — always follow the guidelines for things like meat, leftovers, and other items that require heating.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with the classic BRAT diet or Grandma’s chicken noodle soup recipe when your child is sick. However, you can also offer your child popsicles and other cold dishes. The most important thing to do any time a child is sick is to keep them hydrated and comfortable – recovery will just take time.

Sources: Cleveland Clinic, MacKoul Pediatrics,

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