A toddler can develop an upset stomach after eating spoiled food, in response to an infection or as a reaction to motion sickness or overeating. No matter what the cause, dealing with a child who doesn't feel good puts stress on everyone in the family. Left untreated, an upset stomach can lead to vomiting or diarrhea, which can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Fortunately, there are plenty of foods and drinks you can give your toddler to help heal her stomach and keep her hydrated while she is sick.
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For years, pediatricians have recommended the BRAT diet for children with an upset stomach, vomiting or diarrhea. This diet consists of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast, all foods that help solidify stool while also being easy on the digestive tract. Modern research has found other potentially beneficial foods that can be added to this diet to help quell nausea and heal the stomach and intestines. A daily dose of yogurt, for example, can help repopulate the digestive tract with helpful bacteria that fight off infections. Your toddler might also enjoy popsicles, which can add liquid to his diet if he isn't drinking much.
Your child needs liquids to help prevent dehydration when sick. Keeping your toddler hydrated is especially important if she is vomiting or has diarrhea. Liquids are also easier for a toddler with an upset stomach to keep down. If your toddler is still breastfeeding, breast milk provides important antibodies and liquid nutrition that can calm an upset stomach. Otherwise, offer white grape juice or an oral rehydration solution recommended by your child's pediatrician. Avoid apple juice, cow's milk and formula while your child has an upset stomach.
Probiotics are available in capsule form for children with an upset stomach who don't or can't eat yogurt. These beneficial microorganisms can be sprinkled into any food or drink your toddler can keep down. Avoid giving your toddler medication without the specific approval from his pediatrician. Some medications can slow the healing process and make vomiting or diarrhea last longer.
If your toddler has mild diarrhea or vomiting, you can treat his upset stomach at home. If you notice signs of bloody diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain or sustained weight loss, contact his pediatrician. Other potential danger signs include a dry mouth, a lack of tears when crying and having gone eight hours or more without urinating. These can signal dehydration and your child may need to go to a hospital for intravenous rehydration.