Rotavirus, a common cause of viral diarrhea, causes an inflammation of the stomach and intestines known as gastroenteritis. Besides severe watery diarrhea, rotavirus causes vomiting and can lead to dehydration and even death. As stated by the Centers for Disase Control, this virus causes more than half a million deaths per year in children younger than 5. When recovering from rotavirus, a bland diet that avoids foods that might irritate your child's stomach is advised.
Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt can be irritating to your child's stomach when it is inflamed, and in some children can even make diarrhea worse. Even children who typically drink milk should use an oral rehydration solution that replaces fluids and electrolytes instead of milk. If your child is actively vomiting, try small amounts of clear liquids or ice chips. Infants and young children are at the highest risk of dehydration, so if you have any concerns about your child's fluid intake you should discuss it with your pediatrician.
Fried or fatty foods such as hamburgers, french fries, chips and desserts may be irritating to your child's stomach and difficult to tolerate after having rotavirus. When your child is ready to begin eating, start with bland foods such as bread, crackers, potatoes, rice, apples and bananas. Start with small amounts of food and increase as your child is able to tolerate. Remember that while your instinct may be to try to get your child to eat, fluids are more important immediately after rotavirus infection.
While most children do not drink coffee, caffeine can also be found in some sodas, chocolate and tea. Caffeine is irritating to the lining of the stomach and may exacerbate the inflammation resulting from the rotavirus infection. Non-caffeinated tea can be used, as may popsicles and soda such as 7-Up, which is not caffeinated. As your child begins to tolerate a bland diet, add in food with more fiber and transition back to her regular diet.