When your child doesn’t feel well, you want to do everything in your power to help them feel better. Stomach aches are common and they may be caused by any number of reasons. By ruling out emergencies, comforting your child, and providing natural relief you can help ease your child’s discomfort.
EditRuling Out Emergencies
- Know when to call a doctor. Sometimes, a stomach ache can be serious or a sign of a medical condition. Such conditions will usually cause your child to exhibit a range of symptoms. Call the doctor immediately if your child has:
- Persistent pain on the right side of their abdomen (a symptoms of appendicitis)
- Pain only in one specific part of the abdomen
- Severe or rapidly worsening pain
- Pain lasting for more than 24 hours
- Tenderness when you put pressure on their belly
- A swollen abdomen
- An abdomen that is hard or stiff to the touch
- Pain or swelling in the groin (including testicles)
- Pain during urination
- High fever
- Frequent vomiting or diarrhea; inability to keep water down
- Blood in the stool/vomit or rectal bleeding
- A recent injury to the abdomen
- Know when to call poison control. A stomach ache could be a result of consuming something poisonous, such as a chemical, medicine, cleaning product, or other dangerous substance. If your child has consumed (or you think they have consumed) a non-edible item or liquid, call your local poison control center. You can reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers at (800)222-1222. Some signs that your child may have ingested poison include:
- Unexplained vomiting or diarrhea
- Chest pain
- Blurred vision
- Unexplained stains on clothing
- Burns on lips, mouth, or skin
- Excessive drooling
- Bad breath
- Trouble breathing
EditSoothing Your Child
- Get their mind off of it. Stories, movies, and board games can be used to pass the time and help your child forget about their tummy ache. Do your best to have fun while you wait for the pain to pass.
- Give your child a warm bath. Warm water help your child to relax, and help them feel better. Also, baths can be fun! Toss in some bubbles and bath toys to encourage them to forget the stomach ache for a while.
- Ask them to drink water. If your child’s stomach ache is not an emergency, it may be as simple as slight dehydration. Offer your child some water and encourage them to drink. You may want to add a bit of fruit (such as watermelon or orange) to the water to make it taste better for them.
- Feed your child bland foods. Bland white foods can help absorb any excess acid floating around in your child’s tummy. A plain slice of whole wheat bread is an excellent choice, as well as dry crackers or plain rice.
- Offer warm chicken broth. Chicken broth (especially broth made from real chicken bones) is a mild, nutritious, and easy-to-digest food. The warm liquid is also soothing. Especially if your child does not want to eat, try offering some chicken broth to help keep them nourished and hydrated.
- If your child does not eat chicken, you can offer vegetable broth instead.
- Provide affection. Sometimes hugs and kisses are the best medicine! If your child feels loved and supported throughout the period of discomfort, they will be less likely to experience negative feelings. Provide plenty of affection and attention to keep them happy and calm.
- Encourage your child to rest. Your child needs rest in order to recover and heal. They may want to press a pillow against their stomach. Snuggle together on the couch or lie down beside them and rub their tummy.
- Ask your child to lie down on their side if it seems like they have gas.
EditProviding Natural Relief
- Offer papaya, ginger, or peppermint chews. Papaya, ginger, and peppermint are excellent for soothing upset tummies. Papaya, ginger, and peppermint chews are all available at health food stores. These items resemble candy and taste good, so your child is more likely to eat it.
- Always be sure to read the packaging to see how many chews your child can eat in a day. Be sure as well that your child is old enough to consume the chews safely.
- Make tea to soothe your child’s stomach. Ginger and mint are also available in tea form. These warm beverages work quickly to ease stomach discomfort. Make your child a cup of warm mint or ginger tea. You may add a bit of honey if it helps them to enjoy it.
- Avoid adding white sugar to the tea, as this may aggravate the child’s tummy.
- Don’t add honey if the child is under one year old, either. Since infants don’t have the right digestive organisms, honey can cause a dangerous illness called infant botulism.
- Try giving your child gripe water. Gripe water is a product sold to relieve colic and other tummy troubles in infants, but it can be helpful for older kids too. The main ingredient is fennel oil, which can help ease gas, bloating, or upset stomach. Try to avoid gripe water varieties that contain sweetener (sucrose) or alcohol.
- Place a heating pad on your child’s stomach. Warmth can encourage your child’s stomach muscles to relax, helping to ease the discomfort. Use a traditional heating pad (on low), or warm a cloth in the microwave.
- Massage your child’s tummy. With soft hands, rub circles around your child’s stomach. This should provide some comfort, while also encouraging their muscles to relax. Continue this for 5-10 minutes. Avoid moving too quickly or pressing too hard.
- Ask them if they had too much to eat; overeating can cause bloating or stomach aches.
- If a bug is going around your child may just have a different type of bug with big stomach pains!
- Don’t panic or stress the child out.
- If your child is a girl, make sure she is not on her period.
- Don’t give your child soda if they are ill. The acidic content of the drink will make them feel much worse.
- If your child throws up, encourage and patiently help him/her to drink water after to get rid of the taste.
- Yogurt is full of good bacteria and is, therefore, a good choice for a child with disturbed digestive system.
- “I’ve got tummy ache” is one of the top excuses used by children to get out of doing things they don’t want to do. Make sure your child is telling the truth about their symptoms.
- Call a doctor if your child doesn’t respond to any of the advice above.
- Be sure to tell the doctor if your child has special medical needs or concerns.
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