Should Kids With an Upset Stomach Drink Milk?

little girl in her bed has a stomachache
Child laying down feeling sick. (Image: philipimage/iStock/Getty Images)

Your child should drink fluids to help him recover from the tummy troubles that cause vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. While milk is often a go-to drink for many children, it may not be the best option as clear liquids are a better choice for minimizing stomach upset. A child who suffers from an upset stomach may also suffer dehydration. Always ask your child’s pediatrician if milk is right for your sick child.

Rehydration

An oral rehydration solution, such as Pedialyte or CeraLyte, may be a preferable choice over milk. These solutions can restore sodium and potassium to his body. Giving your child these electrolytes can help keep him from becoming sicker. If your baby has an upset stomach, try giving him 2 to 3 teaspoons of the solution every 10 to 15 minutes, according to KidsHealth.org. For children ages 1 and up, you can give 2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons every 20 to 30 minutes. However, if your child does not like the taste of an electrolyte beverage, you may be able to give her milk if she is old enough.

Vomiting Recommendations

You can give your child milk once she stops vomiting, said Dr. Andrea McCoy, a pediatric associate professor at Temple University, in a recent Parenting.com article. She suggested starting with small amounts, such as 2 ounces of milk or about one-fourth cup. If your child can tolerate this amount, you may be able to start giving more.

Diarrhea Recommendations

Dr. Marvin Gans, a pediatrician interviewed in Canadian Living, recommends avoiding dairy when your child experiences diarrhea. This is because milk contains sugars that stimulate bowels and contribute to diarrhea. The Nemours Foundation recommends waiting between two to three days to give your child milk following an illness. Other high-sugar drinks, such as soft drinks and juices, also should be avoided for this reason. For a young child still nursing, breast milk is OK, but avoid giving him cow's milk until the diarrhea resolves. Because soy and almond milks do not contain the same lactose sugars, they are permissible in small amounts. However, oral electrolyte replacement solutions may be preferable.

Seek Immediate Treatment

If your child cannot tolerate milk products or other liquids and is vomiting, contact her pediatrician. You may be advised to seek immediate medical care if she is vomiting blood or material that resembles coffee grounds. If your child has severe dehydration symptoms such as sunken eyes or lethargy, Drugs.com advises that you seek medical treatment.

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