Abdominal pain is a common health problem in toddlers and children. Although majority of the reasons of stomachache are self limiting and benign, it is difficult for parents to evaluate the cause. It can be as minor as constipation and gas in stomach to more serious gastrointestinal infection. Abdominal pain can be acute or periodic depending on the underlying cause.
Many children may have other accompanying symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Parents often face dilemma whether their toddler needs medical attention or the condition can be treated at home.
Fortunately, abdominal pain in majority of toddlers is self limiting and reduces with home remedies. However, if the pain is severe and long standing than the child needs medical attention.
Common Causes Of Abdominal Pain In Toddlers
Pain in abdomen can occur due to many reasons. It is one of the common medical conditions in children. Let us know frequent and minor problems first.
- Many toddlers complain of stomachache when it is time for them to go to school. The reason in such cases is fear and stress. It is a functional reason with no substantial evidence of organic gastrointestinal pathology.
- Abdominal pain and fullness is possible when the child overeats.
- Constipation is other important cause for toddlers tummy ache. The child may have history of infrequent and hard stool. He strains during bowel movement.
- Stomach gas is often responsible for cramps in abdomen in children between one and three years old. Often dairy foods and juices containing fructose and sorbitol trigger gases in abdomen. Cabbage, starchy foods, milk and dairy products, may cause discomfort and bloating in stomach. The reason for belly ache after consuming milk in most cases is due to lactose intolerance.
- Gastrointestinal infection, both virus and bacterial infection can cause pain in abdomen.
- Intestinal obstruction, accidental swallowing of foreign bodies such as metal coins, iron tablets etc can produce pain in abdomen.
Home Remedies For Stomach Pain In Toddlers
Abdominal pain in toddlers is quite confusing for the parents as the underlying reason can be related to psyche of the child or there may be some real pathology involved. Often there are associated symptoms that may give an indication whether the problem is simple or complex. For example the child may have no other symptom except complain of pain.
In other cases it may be accompanied with fever, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation etc. Facial expressions are also significant. Child having real cramps may be crying with each episode. Observation and monitoring is therefore crucial in all cases of abdominal pain.
Preliminary home remedies are useful in limiting pain, but persistent and severe pain with fever, diarrhea and vomiting may need medical attention. Below are some of the steps that may help to alleviate stomach pain if the cause is minor.
- Make sure the child gets adequate rest. Let the child rest in bed in whatever position he feels comfortable.
- Liquid diet is soothing for stomach. Feed the child with soups, adequate amount of water, broths, rice water etc. Toddler who is vomiting continuously will not be able to retain large amount of liquid. In such cases give him small amount frequently till the child is able to hold the fluids. Avoid milk and fruit juice.
- A gentle massage with small amount of mustard oil over the abdomen is beneficial in many cases of abdominal pain.
- If the cause of pain is fear and anxiety of going to school, distract him from pain instead of sympathizing. Let him take rest for a while but encourage him to go to school later on.
- Soak one teaspoon of aniseed in one glass of water. After few hours let him drink this water as much as he can.
- Chamomile tea is time tested home remedy for tummy ache in toddlers.
- Place bag filled with warm water on his abdomen. However, take care that the water is not too warm or else it may scald the skin.
- Encourage the child to eat vegetables and fruits if he is constipated.