Food Poisoning In Toddlers - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Food Poisoning In Toddlers

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How common do you think is food poisoning? The Food and Drug Administration states that all of us experiences food poisoning in one form or the other in every 2 years. However, children do not recover from food poisoning as easily as we do, due to their developing immune system and low production of acid in the stomach which generally kills most harmful bacteria (1).

So, here we bring forth an article, to create better awareness about food poisoning in toddlers.

What Is Food Poisoning?

Also called a food borne illness, food poisoning is an illness caused by eating contaminated food. Toxins like bacteria, viruses and other parasites can cause food poisoning. These toxins contaminate food at the point of processing, production or storage (2).

Symptoms Of Food Poisoning In Toddlers:

The usual signs of food poisoning in toddlers can be visible within hours of eating the contaminated food or even days later. Even though some milder forms of food poisoning may not need a treatment, it will always be wise to take your child to the hospital if you detect any of the following symptoms,

1. Nausea
2. Vomiting
3. Abdominal pains and cramps
4. Diarrhea
5. Fever
6. Breathing difficulty

Food poisoning and stomach flu can look the same initially. But you can find the difference by finding blood or mucus in the diarrhea stools, if the infection is food poisoning.

[ Read: Vomiting In Toddlers ]


The equation of food poisoning goes like this:

Bacteria+ Food + Moisture+ Time+ Warmth= Food Poisoning

The most common culprit, the bacteria which causes food poisoning in children is Salmonella. Salmonella bacteria don’t show themselves. Unfortunately, even if you accidentally eat food containing salmonella you can get very sick even without being aware of a bad taste or rotten smell in the food. It is how you get food poisoning from eating at the best restaurants. (3)

E.coli and Shigella are other bacteria which spread through food and cause contamination by infecting toddler’s mouths and poop. Though E coli infections are less common, once they cause an infection, the food poisoning can prove more fatal. It is because an E coli infection leads to the Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome (anemia, low platelet count and kidney failure).

Medium Of Transmission:

Toddler food poisoning spreads through the following means,

  • Contaminated water
  • Contaminated foods like undercooked poultry, alfalfa sprouts, unpasteurized dairy,
  • Direct contact with infected poop or saliva
  • Pet iguanas and turtles(4)


The usual process of detecting a case of food poisoning is through visible physical symptoms. Also the doctor can ask your child to undergo a stool culture to detect blood or white blood cells in the poop and occasionally a blood test.


how to treat food poisoning in toddlers? Well, the form of treatment administered will depend on the bug that primarily caused the infection. While some bugs need to be treated with antibiotics to shorten, the duration of the illness others can turn worse with antibiotics. However, lot of fluids should be given to prevent any incidence of dehydration.


Here are some simple steps to help you keep food poisoning at bay from your family:

1. Keep hot food hot and cold food cold.

2. Wipe the kitchen clean always and ensure it is bacteria-free.

3. One way of assessing the quality of food from outside is to see what the locals are eating. Regular customers are often given the choice of the best dishes produce (5).

4. Cooking kills bacteria and refrigeration prevents its growth. Bacteria multiplies like crazy at a room temperature of 60 degree F to 125 degree F. Meat, poultry, and fish, are the most common foods for bacteria to develop. Even unwashed fruits and vegetables and dishes prepared with mayonnaise can harbor unwanted bacteria.

5. Do not give most varieties of shellfish to your toddler as these are more prone to carry food poisoning bugs.

6. Immediately discard the soiled nappies of your toddler to avoid fecal contamination.

[ Read: Loss Of Appetite In Toddlers ]

Tips While Cooking For Toddlers:

  • All foods need to be cooked at 165 degree F. This is applicable for reheating too.
  • Keep the temperature of your refrigerator at 45 degrees F and the freezer at zero degrees.
  • Keep cold food in the refrigerator until ready to serve, cook or reheat. Thaw frozen foods from the refrigerator and then cook them on the same day.
  • Make sure all forms of meat are cooked well.
  • Store eggs in the refrigerator and do not use eggs with a cracked shell and cook eggs until they aren’t runny.
  • Don’t rely on your nose to check for contamination. Foods can be tainted even if they are not smelly (6).

Most important of all, wash hands thoroughly with a disinfecting solution before you prepare food for your toddler. Encourage your little one also to do the same before eating. Your home is going to be safe from food poisoning. Do you have any queries in this regard? Feel free to ask us, we can provide the solution.

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