Whether it is due to food poisoning, the flu or simply a case of indigestion, an upset stomach can be a terrible ordeal for a child and parent alike. When your child is uncomfortable, you might struggle to find foods that won't make her stomachache worse. Keep in mind that fluids are more important than food when a child is sick, especially if she is losing water through vomiting or diarrhea. If she can keep food down, choose bland options that won't make things worse.
If your child feels under the weather and complains of a sore stomach but doesn't exhibit any other symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, keep the food you offer simple and bland. Options such as crackers, dry cereal or chicken broth or chicken noodle soup might be soothing.
Vomiting and Diarrhea
When your child has spent the day near a toilet, turn to BRAT – bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Once her stomach problems have calmed down, this quartet of bland foods is unlikely to cause extra pain to your child’s tummy. Bananas also help replenish the potassium your child might have lost through vomiting or diarrhea. Try low-sugar yogurt, too, as the probiotics in it help return the "good" bacteria to the gut.
Foods to Avoid
For about 24 to 48 hours after tummy troubles, don't feed your child any high-sugar, spicy or greasy foods, as it can aggravate her stomach. Skip apple juice because it can also bring back diarrhea. When you reintroduce milk, do so slowly. Acidic drinks such as orange juice, although good for colds, should be avoided, too.
If your child’s stomach hurts due to constipation, another acronym might be of better assistance: CRAP, which stands for cherries, raisins, apricots and prunes, and all have plenty of fiber to loosen her stool, according to "YOU: Raising Your Child," by Michael Roizen, MD, and Mehmet Oz, MD. If you have a toddler, avoid raisins, but you could pit, skin and puree the other types of fruits to avoid a risk of choking or offer low-sugar prune juice, instead. Increasing fluid intake can help relieve constipation, too.
Don't Forget Fluids
If your child can’t keep food down or complains that their stomach hurts too much to eat, ensure that he can still get the proper amount of fluids. Give him 1 to 2 tablespoons of fluid such as water or an oral rehydration solution -- a special electrolyte solution that can prevent dehydration that's available at the supermarket or drugstore. If he is vomiting, wait about 30 minutes and then increase the amount of fluid to 1 to 2 ounces every 10 minutes. Although ginger ale has a reputation for soothing sore stomachs, that’s only the case if it actually contains ginger – and not all commercial brands do.
- FamilyDoctor.org: BRAT Diet: Recovering From an Upset Stomach
- Parenting: Foods (and Drinks) That Soothe Sick Kids
- University of Michigan Medical School: Probiotics
- CandianLiving.com; Moms; Tips for Easing Your Child's Upset Stomach
- HealthyChildren.org: Vomiting
- YOU: Raising Your Child; Michael F. Roizen, Mehmet Oz