Toddler Stomach Ache

image001Being a parent is not easy, especially if you are a new parent and your baby is crying for no apparent reason. You may think of increasingly serious things that might be wrong with your baby, but as your pediatricians will tell you, it is fairly common for newborns to cry for seemingly no reason or to be very irritable in the first few months of their life.

However, if you observe that your baby cries vigorously after meals or has an inflated abdomen when it does so, then the culprit might be a stomach ache. It is easy to deal with an achy stomach but the first question to ask is whether the stomach ache is real or not. If your child is less than one year old, then more than likely the stomach ache is real. The common causes of toddler stomach ache are constipation, nervousness and indigestion.

What Causes Toddler Stomach Ache?





Less frequent bowel movements; hard stools that are dry and difficult to pass; baby looks uncomfortable during bowel movement.

Give the baby plenty of fluids and foods such as oatmeal, apricots, prunes and peas. If severe, use stool softeners, lubricants or laxatives

Gas pain

Intake of juices that contain sorbitol, an artificial sweetener that is associated with excessive gas production

Make a note of what your child eats and eliminate food that gives him/her gas. Give him/her anti-gas agents such as Mylicon.

Stomach flu

The symptoms such as severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, loss of appetite may occur with gastroenteritis which is stomach flu and commonly occurs after colds.

Fluid intake to prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalance; anti-pyretics such as paracetamol to bring down the fever. Consult the doctor if severe.

Lactose intolerance

These symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, bloody stool, and rashes occur after intake of milk. The body responds to the protein present in milk that can even cause life threatening reaction called anaphylactic shock.

Soy milk can be used if it suits your child. Other sources of calcium must be introduced in the diet. Consult a doctor or nutritionist. Buy lactose free products.

Intestinal blockage

Sever writhing pain in the abdomen; increase in intensity or frequency of pain; vomiting; these signs above may be of intestinal obstruction especially if they present suddenly.

Take the baby to the emergency room immediately as he/she may be suffering from intussusception (a condition where one part of bowel slides into adjacent part).

Poisonous substance

Stomach ache; vomiting; sometimes ingestion of a toxic chemical or drug can lead to stomach ache. Chronic exposure to lead can also cause poisoning.

Take the child to an emergency room. Test him/her for lead poisoning.

Motion sickness

Every time the child gets in vehicle, he or she gets sick. This is called motion sickness and this is associated with nerves.

Make scheduled stopping during a trip. Take light snack before travelling. Have enough fluids for rehydration.

Functional abdominal pain

Abdominal pain without any reason can be functional abdominal pain, commonly seen in children between 5 and 6 years. Stress might be a factor.

Relaxation techniques that relieve stress can be useful. Medication might be needed if pain worsens.

How to Soothe Toddler Stomach Ache

1. Burp the Toddler

It is important to burp the baby every time after feeding. The reason why burping is important is that the baby gulps air every time during feeding. This air stays in the stomach and will move on into the intestines if not burped out. If it gets into the intestines, the air will cause bloating and make the baby irritable and uncomfortable. To help the baby burp this air, place him/her in an upright position, against your chest or even on his/her stomach and then repeatedly pat him/her on the back gently.

2. Place a Warm Compress on the Toddlers’ Belly

Warmth can sooth a stomachache. To relieve your baby’s ache by using a compress, take a towel and warm it. Check the temperature of the towel by touching it on your inner arm and make sure that the towel is not overly hot. Babies are more sensitive to heat, so you must avoid applying too much heat. If the towel is too hot, then let it cool for a few before using it.

Now lay this warm towel on your lap and then place your baby on it, stomach down, supporting the head of the baby. While the baby is lying on his/her stomach, rub his/her back to sooth him/her. This can help relieve your baby’s stomach-ache and calm him/her.

3. Drink Gripe Water

Gripe water preparations can help relieve your baby’s indigestion and gas. However, you must consult your pediatrician before giving anything to your baby. If your doctor permits, you can give gripe water which is very soothing for a baby and available easily at a pharmacy. It is a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and some herbs that can help alleviate your baby’s tummy ache.

4. Rub the Toddlers’ Belly

Sometimes rubbing your baby’s belly can pacify him/her. Gentle stroking in the downward direction can be useful for relieving gas and easing tummy ache. Aromatherapy oils that have been approved for children can be used while gently massaging the baby to calm him/her. Observe your baby’s reaction to the gentle rubbing and see if he flinches when you press somewhere.

5. Other Methods

Brewing weak herbal teas can also help in relieving your baby’s tummy ache. Again, you must ask your pediatrician before using the tea. Chamomile, anise, peppermint or fennel teas can be given to your baby. Just brew a weak tea using these herbs and pour it in the baby’s bottle.

Want to see how to massage your baby’s stomach to soothe his toddler stomach ache? Check out the video below:

When to See a Doctor

Tummy ache is very common in toddlers. While you can take measures at home to relieve the ache, worsening pain or recurring pain that is difficult to relieve can force you to take your child to the doctor. Here are a few signs that you must look for:



Fever with the pain

Fever indicates infection; if there is fever with the pain, then it means you must visit the doctor.


Recurring vomiting, which is brown, yellow or green colored, is serious. Blood in vomit is another sign that you must look out for.

Distended abdomen

When there is excess gas in the stomach, the abdomen is usually bloated. However, a more than normal distension with pain or tense and swollen abdomen is a sign that you must visit the doctor.

Pain during urination

If there is pain during urination, then it might be a urinary tract infection and you need to visit the doctor to confirm it.

Blood in urine

There is blood or pus in urine or dark brown urine.

Pus or blood in stool

This might indicate a viral or bacterial infection of the intestines especially if it occurs with diarrhea.

Recurring pain

Pain that is associated with weight loss or one that wakens the child at night might indicate infection or chronic inflammation.

If you see any of these signs, then you must take your child to see the doctor immediately.

Important Notes:

  • Sometimes abdominal pain is caused by food sensitivity like lactose intolerance. For lactose intolerant people, cramping pain and gas with or without diarrhea are common after lactose ingestion. Such children also have a positive family history of being lactose intolerant. Their condition can be alleviated by stopping milk or milk-based products and adjusting the diet of the child.
  • Ingestion of artificial sweeteners that contain sorbitol is also associated with abdominal pain.

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