Friday, 25 May 2012

When Baby gets sick

No piccies on this one, yet, because on my lap I have a small sleeping child, who is suffering, once again from some tummy bug. She seems to get these from time to time, no matter how many times I wash my hands, or how much care I take over preparing food. I use medicated wipes when we're out and wash our hands when we come in, I've even been known to change all our clothes, as soon as we get home, but it doesn't seem to make much difference, she still gets them. It is so frustrating! Perhaps I should be rejoicing that she hasn't had one in a while but I'd much rather that she didn't have one at all!

When her first tummy bug hit, I poured over as many online articles as I could, to find the best advice I could, as to what I should  do with my poorly babe - particularly as she had a cow's milk allergy. What I discovered was that the only approach was to let the bug run its course, meanwhile, if Baby was yet to be weaned, you just kept the usual milk flowing. If that failed (due to excessive vomiting) then water mixed with rehydration salts is the next best thing. In fact hydration is the most important thing.

Once food was involved, it was a different story. Some times, when Baby has been poorly, food has been clearly the last thing on her mind, but other times, she has made it known that she really wants something to eat, which then leads to the dilemma of what to give her that won't exacerbate the problem.

It seems there are two basic approaches - either the 24 hour starve and then BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Apple sauce and dry Toast) diet - this approach is now considered outdated. The other approach is to let the poorly child have some food if they feel like it (but not citrus) This approach works on the assumption that the sick body benefits from nourishment. These days many advocate eating pro biotic yoghurt in order to help restore the balance in the gut - something not suitable for us then!

All of this feels pretty unhelpful when you have an unhappy baby, and are dodging difficult nappies. My approach is to try and stay off food for 24 hours, if possible, as I find this usually does seem to starve the bug. However, now that Baby's older she doesn't see why she shouldn't eat, so if Baby gets hungry I feed her small amounts of bland food. We avoid her usual soya milk, fruit juice, anything oily or sugary and try to ride it out.

The only good piece of news, for Baby and I, is that as I am still breastfeeding Baby, breast milk is still the best! Baby can have as much of that as she can get out of me, when she is ill and can't or won't have solids. I've noticed that, as I allow her to feed on demand, she usually drives up my milk supply  (although it might take a day or so to get sufficient for her needs). The only downside to this, is that it's best if I avoid coffee and chocolate, as that can pass through the breastmilk and irritate Baby's gut even more.

One other good thing, that I have discovered, is that mini bread sticks (we get ours from Waitrose) can be really useful. They're plain, bland and unsweetened and more appealing to Baby than dried toast! When she feels like eating, I often give her these, to see how she gets on with them. Also, as they are a little dry, they encourage her to drink and stay hydrated.

As soon as Baby's appetite has returned, the next step I have usually taken is to introduce egg (poached, not fried) with toast. Eggs are packed with nutrients and often, I find, are easily digested. Until recently, my next step has been mashed potato (mashed with its own cooking water) with maybe some steamed chicken or fish along with some steamed carrots. However, on the last occasion, we all caught it - even The Hub with his cast-iron constitution didn't escape. The Hub broke all my rules! 

He felt like fizzy drink, so drank fizzy drink, he felt like eating (after an initial period where he just wanted to sleep) so he ate and he recovered pretty quickly! What The Hub ate was a dish from his childhood. Although it didn't look appealing, I found that it really hit the spot for my recovering stomach too. 

Basically, it's a Chinese dish, which consists of rice cooked in a lot of water for a long time, until it reaches a thick and 'creamy' consistency. During this time, the rice becomes all mushy and broken down. Eaten for centuries by the Chinese as breakfast (they might refer to it as 'porridge') or indeed at any time of the day, it is used also as a first food for babies. It can be dressed up or down and have all manner of things added to it. It can be made sweet or savoury.

From what I can tell from looking up recipes online, there are really no rules to this dish - you add whatever you like. The Hub's mother usually makes it as a breakfast, adding small pieces of a kind of Chinese pork sausage, along with spring onions (I think). When The Hub made it, chicken being his favourite 'sick food' (he craves chicken soup when suffering from cold or flu) he added some pieces of chopped chicken near the end (long enough for them to cook through). Et voila! Job done!

Looking for a recipe to explain just the basic method, I found one that I could have reproduced it myself but this website explains it so well, I'm just going to include a link. If you would like to experiment with different recipes, this guy's site has got the lot! Or if you just want one simple method, check out this one.

Meanwhile, back to today, I'm going to wait and see what Baby wants. Frustratingly, my little fussy one has been known to turn her nose up at Congee!

How about you? What works for you, when you're child is ill?

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