Best Ways to Soothe A Childs Upset Stomach
When our babies hurt, we hurt too. Young children and infants have very finicky stomachs and digestive systems, so they often have tummy aches. There are a plethora of ways to cure and ease an upset stomach. But rather than covering medications such as children’s aspirin or pepto, we want to focus on natural remedies. Aspirin and other medications work just as well, but if you’re uncomfortable with giving your children medications, then this article will give you dozens of ways to help your aching little one.
Naps and Rest
Sometimes, the best way to cure an upset stomach is a good night’s sleep. Sleep is the body’s natural reset button because it allows your child’s immune system to fight off a number of illnesses. If your child experiences stomach pain later at night, send them to bed or put them down early. The warmth from their bed or crib and the pressure from lying down naturally soothes a hurt tummy. Most times, a child that goes to bed with an upset tummy wakes up feeling refreshed, pain-free, and ready for the day.
Now, sometimes children have upset tummies rather early in the day. We can’t just send them to bed at 2:00 pm, especially if the child is involved in extracurricular activities. If your child is experiencing stomach pain, but they have a full day ahead of them, get them ready for a power nap. Like a full night’s rest, a power nap naturally soothes the stomach. Give them about an hour or two long nap, then see how they’re feeling. If the pain subsided, they’re ready for the day ahead.
Children also need to rest. Not sleep or nap, but just lay down and get cozy for a while. Sometimes exercise is needed, but other times a good bit of down time does the body good. Of course, this bit of rest needs to be compounded with other methods to reduce stomach pain. The best combination is rest with a bit of hot soup and ginger tea. If napping and sleeping doesn’t do the trick, then this trifecta is a sure-fire way to bring relief to your little one.
Massaging and Pressure
For smaller children, such as infants and toddlers, tummy rubs are a great way to soothe the pain. If their stomachs are taught, or they feel tight to the touch, rub their stomachs in smooth, gentle circles. Usually, tightness is a sign of constipation. So, the massage not only avoids the use of medication, but also relaxes their digestive systems and loosens up their bowels naturally. The combined heat and pressure from your hand, coupled with the soothing touch of a parent, soothes the child in a comforting, natural way.
Strangely enough, massaging certain portions of the foot helps relieve stomach pain. Using reflexology, or targeting specific areas of the foot, you can reduce your child’s overall pain and anxiety. Gentle take your child’s left foot in hand, then rub just under the ball of the child’s foot with your other hand. Use a caterpillar-like motion where you rub small circles in a single spot before moving your thumb and repeating the process. Because our nerves cluster in the feet, this kind of massage relaxes the entire body. Massage the foot long enough with constant pressure and soon pain subsides.
Sometimes, the touch of a parent is the most calming and effective way to cure a tummy ache. It’s been proven that gentle touching and skin-on-skin contact releases endorphins that create a tranquil demeanor. Endorphins lower stress, physical pain, and discomfort. If your little one is fussing with a tummy ache, cuddle them for a short while before bedtime or nap time. The physical bound formed by the skin-on-skin contact will relax them enough for some rest.
Heat can help relieve stomach pain when applied directly on the afflicted area. Heating pads are great for stomach aches because you can control both the heat and the placement. This is great for ‘moving pains,’ or a pain that seems to travel from the torso to other areas like the back, side, and lower body. Simply move the heating pad with the pain, or, if your child is old enough, have the child move the heating pad to their comfort. Set the heat to a reasonable temperature before applying the heating pad to your child, and be certain your child knows the proper way to turn off the pad.
Warm baths are a great source of comfort for children. Rather than just applying heat to a single area, a warm bath relaxes the entire body at once. Your child can just soak in the tub for a bit, relax their whole body, and get a good cleaning while fighting off the stomach pain. Warm baths are best right before bed because the warm water relaxes the muscles, and prepares the body for bedtime. While this alone won’t completely cure the stomach pain, warm baths in tandem with a good night’s rest is a great combination for tummy aches.
Hot foods like soup and tea are also great for stomach pains. We all know that classic sick-day meal of chicken soup and green tea. The heat from these warm foods helps to relaxes the stomach, easing some of the pain associated with straining. This not only helps the stomach, but the entire digestive tract as well. Because the stomach is linked to both the esophagus and intestines, that entire pathway relaxes. But, generally, you want to avoid solid, heavy foods when your child has a stomach ache. Even if these are hot dishes, hot liquids such as teas and soups work best.
While the knee-jerk reaction to a stomach ache is bed rest and little activity, studies show that physical activity is really beneficial for pain. Rather than immediately placing your child in bed, try having them move a nit. Simple activities like walking or jogging loosen the bowels, and can help alleviate pain from constipation. A great, low energy activity to do with your child when they have a stomach ache is yoga. Roll out a few mats and have them copy a few simple poses with you. This will get them moving enough to stretch their muscles around their stomachs and intestines. By stretching these muscles, some pain is alleviated from the sheer tightness around their stomachs.
If your child isn’t too terribly sick, get them playing outside. The fresh air and sunlight naturally perk up their mood, and the movement helps to get their blood flowing. Amped up blood flow will help reduce swelling, and it will also help to alleviate pain. If your child seems a bit apprehensive to play outside when they feel bad, simply encourage them to take breaks while playing outside. Now, if your child shows symptoms of a sickness such as a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, then bed rest is the best option. But if it’s simply a tummy ache, then some exercise will do them good.
If physical activity and gong outside seem like too strenuous, then stretching is also a great way to relieve stomach pain. Begin by stretching out the neck by rolling it side to side, back and forth, and in circles. Work down to the shoulders and arms, moving them in circles as well before stretching the arms out as far as they can go. Have your child bend forward and touch their toes. This will stretch their arms and their calves. After their extremities are stretched, focus on their core muscles and chest. By stretching the whole body, children experience a good bit of circulation. They also work their stomachs and alleviate the tightness in their torso area.
Of course, changing your child’s diet during a time of sickness is a must. One of the sure-fire ways to alleviate a tummy ache is ginger. Any form of ginger will work, but children respond best to drinks like Canada Dry and Ginger Ale. While these drinks contain all the nutrients vital to the pain stopping power of ginger, they’re much easier to swallow. Remember, ginger is a great way to relieve stomach pain, but it isn’t recommended for children under the age of two.
Fluids are another great way to relieve stomach pain. Because tummy aches are associated symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting, fluids like water will keep your child hydrated through the illness. Carbonated drinks, like sparkling water and Ginger Ale, help settle the stomach and introduce fluids back into the body in a pleasing, child-friendly way. However, while ginger ale and carbonated drinks are fun for children, the most important fluid is water. Keep your child hydrated and the stomach ache should subside, if only a little.
We’ve all heard of the B.R.A.T. diet: Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. When a child is ill, it’s best to stay away from overly processed foods and refined sugar. They’re bodies have to work extra hard to break down those complex foods, but the BRAT diet is designed for easy digestion. Bananas are rich in nutrients, and their soft texture is due to a plethora of easily broken-down sugars. Applesauce and rice are similar in this aspect, as they can both be broken down easily and digested easily. Toast, on the other hand, is mainly to fill up your child. It’s not as nutrient packed as applesauce and bananas, but it will help your child feel full without aggravating their tummy.
Children’s aspirin is still effective for a number of ailments. Not only can children’s aspirin help alleviate pain, it also reduces fevers. If your child has more than just a stomach ache, such as diarrhea or vomiting, aspirin can be a great help. It won’t aggravate the stomach, usually, and helps your child feel better faster. But, as with any medication, you must follow the weight limits on the medications bottles very strictly. Aspirin can cause ulcers when used excessively, so please only use medications as directed.
Children’s Pepto-Bismol is specifically made for vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and indigestion. Pepto alleviates these symptoms and the subsequent pain that comes with them. However, Pepto can be quite nasty to swallow. You can purchase bubblegum flavored Pepto to help your child get the medication down, or you can pair with something sweet. As always, follow the recommend dosage at all times to avoid serious issues. Pepto-Bismol has been linked to swelling in the intestinal lining when given in high quantities, so please be mindful of how much you give your child.
When to Call a Doctor
While calling the doctor is the last thing many parents want to do, it’s sometimes the only option. You should call the doctor if your child is experiencing excessive amounts of pain. This looks different from child to child, and this also depends on age. Infants and toddlers cry when uncomfortable, so you’ll have to look for other symptoms. If a fever accompanies the stomach ache, calling a pediatrician is advised. If your little one is apprehensive to move or feels stiff, this might call for emergency care. The same goes for bloody stool or vomit. In children, bloody stool appears black and has a very strong smell. Issues like this need to be brought to the attention of a doctor immediately.
Overall, they are a ton of ways to help your little one. Weather you feel the best way is to medicate them, or to put them on bedrest, or to get them walking around, all these methods work. Each child is different, and every child is different day to day. What might have worked for your child at one time might no longer. It’s important to keep an open mind about treatments and medications. And if you found something in this article that you didn’t know of before, we hope you try it out later!