How to Treat Diarrhea & Stomach Pain in Children

Diarrhea and stomach pain are often present together in children, especially when the diarrhea is caused by bacteria or a virus. The website Keep Kids Healthy says that most cases of diarrhea resolve on their own, and a parent can make the child comfortable at home while she's sick. The most important treatment during diarrhea is replenishing fluids to reduce the risk of dehydration, which can be a serious complication. Before doing anything, however, it's wise to call the pediatrician, especially if the child has a fever.

Step 1

Offer the child small drinks of water, sports drink or a speciality rehydration fluid. Small sips are best to minimize stomach upset. If the child dislikes these solutions, offer other beverages according to the child's taste but avoid citrus, carbonated or other potentially irritating liquids.

Step 2

Use wet wipes to clean the child's bottom, or help her use them herself after each bowel movement. This is gentler on the child's bottom than regular toilet tissue. Make sure she washes her hands, and wash your own hands, as well.

Step 3

Apply or help the child apply a thin layer of ointment or diaper rash cream to the bottom to soothe rawness. These ointments are calming and can reduce pain from frequent bowel movements. Consult a health-care professional about treatment if the child develops hemorrhoids. Again, hand washing is essential.

Step 4

Provide the child with bland foods when she becomes hungry. These foods are gentler on the stomach because they are easier to digest. Foods to choose include bananas, applesauce, rice and toast. Allow the child to eat these foods in small portions until the stomach issue resolves. Slowly introduce other foods once the diarrhea has subsided for at least 24 hours. Avoid spicy, greasy or fried foods for the first day or two after the stomach illness.

Step 5

Treat the child's stomach pain by applying a warm water bottle or a warm wash cloth to the abdomen for 20 minutes at a time. A warm bath can also offer the child relief from stomach pain by relaxing the muscles and intestines. Repeat these measures as often as necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • Water

  • Sports drink or rehydration fluid

  • Wet wipes

  • Vitamin A and D ointment or diaper cream

  • Bananas

  • Rice

  • Applesauce

  • Toast

  • Water bottle or warm cloth

Tip

Offer gelatin or ice pops to replenish fluids. If the child can eat, offer probiotic products such as yogurt to help restore intestinal flora, the University of Maryland Medical Center advises. Contact a health-care professional if the child shows signs of dehydration, which can include sunken eyes, reduced urine output, dark urine, dry mouth or excessive thirst.

Warning

Diarrhea is a reason to keep a child home from childcare or school until 24 hours have passed since the last loose stool. This is to prevent infecting others. Seek medical attention for a child if blood appears in the stool or the child begins vomiting blood or a dark coffee ground-type substance.

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