Stomach Flu in Toddlers – Symptoms, Treatments and Home Remedies

6 min read

Written by Gunjan Bedi

Gunjan Bedi

Stomach flu in toddlers

If your toddler has diarrhea and frequent vomiting, it could be a sign of stomach flu. This usually happens due to viruses such as rotavirus or norovirus. The flu causes inflammation of the digestive tract lining, which results in diarrhea. Stomach flu in toddlers is very common because they sometimes eat food with unwashed hands.

Unfortunately, your little one may feel weak and listless because of losing body fluid. For parents, it is stressful to see their toddler low due to stomach infection. The sickness usually lasts for a few days without medicinal treatment. But those few days can be challenging for toddlers. However, you can take some precautionary steps to help toddlers prevent getting it. Learn about stomach flu, its symptoms, and when to seek doctors in this article.

In This Article

What is Stomach Flu in Toddlers?

Stomach flu in toddlers generally happens due to rotaviruses, adenovirus, and norovirus. Out of all, rotavirus is a very common cause for stomach flu. This contagious viral infection can cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting in little kids. It can cause symptoms such as-

  • Water or loose stools frequently
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Aches and chills
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Fever and vomiting

In some toddlers, stomach flu only lasts for a few days and is not a cause of concern. But sometimes, if it lasts longer, you may need a doctor’s consultation.

What Causes Stomach Flu in Toddlers?

Toddler playing in dirty water

Usually, toddlers get stomach flu due to rotavirus. This virus may enter the stomach through contaminated food or by sharing infected utensils and things. Your little one may also catch the virus by touching things already infected with feces. Toddlers usually put dirty hands in their mouths while playing. Chances are there, your tiny one has picked up an infection from their own infected hands. 

However, in some other cases, it may also spread by drinking contaminated water and droplets present in the air from sneezes and coughs. The symptoms may appear within 4-48 hours after catching an infection.

How Do Toddlers Catch the Stomach Flu?

Stomach flu can spread easily by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. So, your toddlers can catch the stomach flu by touching contaminated food or water, or even through dirty hands. They can also catch the infection if they share eateries with someone sick.

Symptoms of Stomach Flu in Toddlers

Sleepiness and lethargy is a symptom of stomach flu in toddlers

The most common symptoms of stomach flu in toddlers are diarrhea and vomiting. However, many toddlers also have the following symptoms-

  • Chills and fever
  • Stomach cramps and mild pain
  • Poor appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Sleepiness
  • Tiredness
  • Stiff joints
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Fussiness

Your little one may feel irritated and cry because of stomach flu symptoms. The symptoms last for a few days only. Some toddlers become more sluggish and tired than usual because of flu symptoms. Also, an upset stomach can dehydrate your little one, so try to keep them hydrated.

Top 3 Treatment Options For Stomach Flu in Toddlers

ORS for stomach flu

If your toddler has gastroenteritis, they will likely be at a greater risk of dehydration. Here are some treatment options you can follow to help toddlers fight infection-

1. Keep Them Hydrated

Dehydration is the biggest danger for toddlers. When their body loses fluid, they also lose electrolytes and minerals. Make sure to keep your little one hydrated. This helps to fight against infection. Water is good for hydration, but it might not be enough. Provide them with oral rehydration solutions (ORS) for electrolyte balance. Keep your toddlers away from acidic juices and milk. It can worsen stomach problems.

[Read : ORS For Babies]

2. Introduce Solids Slowly

Give them solid food when your toddler starts drinking liquid. But be sure to give bland food such as rice, bananas, bread, and toast. Light soups are also a great option for stomach flu. Avoid giving fried and spicy food to your little one. This kind of food can create a lot of problems and indigestion problems.

3. Skip Over-the-Counter Medicines

Stomach flu usually lasts only a few days. With time, your toddler feels fine and gets rid of stomach flu. We know a lot of mothers are tempted by over-the-counter medicines, but you don’t need to give them. Antibiotics and other medicines may or may not work on viruses. But you should consult with doctors before giving any medicine to your toddler.

Home Remedies For Stomach Flu in Toddlers

Soups and liquid diet helps in stomach flu

Home remedies work well to help fight stomach flu. There are several remedies that can make your tiny tot feel better during stomach flu, such as-

  • Give your toddler coconut water in its natural form or in the form of frozen popsicles. It helps to restore electrolyte balance in the body
  • Give them more water as diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration
  • Feed them light to digest, semi solid or liquid foods such as soups, khichdi, rice porridge, etc.
  • Bananas are a good choice to give in stomach flu
  • If your toddler is vomiting, it is best to stop solids till they feel better and can retain whatever they are eating
  • Provide some refreshing drinks like ginger ale and oral rehydration solutions
  • Avoid dairy and dairy products
  • Make sure your toddlers rest properly. Resting helps to save energy and lets the body calm down

How to Prevent Stomach Flu in Toddlers?

Ensure your toddler is washing hands frequently

Stomach flu is contagious, so there is no complete prevention available. However, you can take necessary steps to minimize the chances of your toddler catching stomach flu, such as-

  • Ask the pediatrician for rotavirus vaccination for toddlers. The first dose of vaccine should be administered before 15 weeks of age. The last dose of the rotavirus vaccine should be given by the age of 8 months.
  • Be sure to wash your toddler’s hands regularly, especially after the bathroom visit. Also, teach them to wash their hands before eating.
  • Clean your toddler’s toys with disinfectant timely.
  • Also wash fruits and vegetables well before giving them to your toddler to eat.
  • Meats etc. should be cooked well.

[Read : Rotavirus Vaccine In Babies]

When to See a Doctor?

Call your doctor if your toddler’s stomach flu symptoms don’t go away after some days. You can also contact the pediatrician if your little munchkin has excessive vomiting and bloody diarrhea. It could be a symptom of severe dehydration and needs immediate medical attention. Some more reasons to seek a doctor are as follows-

  • Infrequent urination
  • Unusual fussiness
  • Your toddler is facing problems while waking up
  • Dry throat and mouth
  • Crying without tears
  • Sunken fontanelle

Stomach flu is a common illness that causes symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. We know it is hard for mothers to see their toddlers sick and weak. You can follow the above remedies to help your toddler with stomach flu. Keep your little heart hydrated when they are dealing with stomach flu. Talk to your pediatrician if their symptoms get worse.


1. What to Feed a Toddler With Stomach Flu?

Fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and soups benefit in stomach flu. In addition to this, give them liquid such as coconut water, lime juice, or oral rehydration solution. This helps to recover the fluid loss.

2. How Long Does the Stomach Flu Last in Toddlers?

Stomach flu lasts for 3-10 days in toddlers. In some cases, it may get over in 2-3 days, but in some cases it may last longer.

3. What is the Difference Between Stomach Flu and Food Poisoning in Toddlers?

Stomach flu is usually caused by virus and is contagious. Food poisoning on the other hand occurs due to bacteria and is not contagious. Stomach flu symptoms take anywhere between 12 to 48 hours to show up. Whereas, food poisoning shows up within a few hours of consuming bad food. Usually it can happen within 6 hours of eating contaminated food.

Read Also: Dehydration In Toddlers

Gunjan Bedi,B.Sc (Biotechnology), M.Sc (Microbiology)

Gunjan Bedi an inspirational writer and story teller. My background in medical science make me a perfect content writer in parenting and medical content writing niche. My content has touched millions of readers within three years. Since past three years I have worked with several clients in different niche and provide easy to read content that readers love the most.Read more.

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