Babies often don't have much of an appetite when they're sick, so while food is optional -- even for several days -- it's essential that they drink enough to prevent dehydration.
If your child is still breast- or bottlefeeding, continue doing so. However, this can be a challenge because a congested infant may stop nursing every few seconds to gulp air. If this is the case, Dr. Kligler suggests asking your doctor if you can give her Pedialyte, an over-the-counter rehydrating solution. "Use an eyedropper so you can keep squirting it in her mouth. Little babies do well with it," he says.
For sick kids 6 months and older, keep in mind that they're also unlikely to guzzle a whole bottle or cup at once. "Offer water, formula, milk, juice -- whatever they normally drink -- in smaller amounts throughout the day," says Dr. Hung. "Every little bit adds up."
If your toddler refuses to drink, try offering him Popsicles. Marguerite Lamb of Yardley, Pennsylvania, mother of Jake, 3, and Sophie, 1, stocks her freezer with Pedialyte pops, which her kids love. If she runs out, she uses regular ice pops. "They're mostly sugar and water, but since sugar is the main ingredient in anti-nausea syrups -- and my kids are often sick with vomiting -- that's probably a good thing."
Signs that your baby is not getting enough fluid include a dry mouth, few or no tears when he's crying, and a failure to wet diapers regularly. If you do offer foods to a toddler who has the flu, follow the BRAT diet, which means bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast -- all easy-to-digest foods.