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Helping Your Child Eat or Drink While in the Hospital

When kids are not feeling well, it can be tough to get them to eat and drink. Here are some ways to help your child.

Tips for drinking


  • Use a cup from home.

  • Help your child decorate a cup to make drinking more fun. You can use things such as stickers or markers.

  • Offer a different type of cup. Some choices may be a paper cup, a fun-shaped cup, a coffee cup like mom or dad use or any kind of new cup.

  • Have your child watch as you pour his or her drink into a cup.

  • Use a fun straw.

  • Give choices:

    • What do you want to drink?

    • Which cup do you want to use?

    • Do you want a straw?

  • Try drinking with your child.

  • Have a tea party.

    • You can include your child’s favorite toys or stuffed animals.

  • Try using medicine cups or a syringe to give your child small sips.

  • Incorporate drinking into playing a game with your child.

  • If your child is eating, encourage them to take a small sip after a few bites of food.

Tips for eating


  • Have your child sit in a high chair or at a table.

  • Get rid of distractions:

    • Turn off the TV.

    • Try not to have too many toys out during mealtime.

    • Put away tablets, cell phones and other electronics or games.

  • Offer choices:

    • What do you want for breakfast?

    • Which snack sounds best to you?

    • Which plate or bowl would you like to use?

  • Encourage your child to take small bites of food and to chew well.

  • Offer your child small meals and snacks throughout the day.

  • Praise your child for eating, even when he or she is only able to eat a few bites of a meal or snack.

  • Eat together. Your child may be more likely to eat if you eat with them.