You’ve had it happen: your child comes to you complaining about a stomach ache. You want to turn their frown upside-down fast—ideally with a natural remedy—but it’s not always clear why they have digestive problems in the first place. The most common digestive issues are gas, bloating, and stomach pain. The most likely culprits are diet, stress, and an unhealthy gut. So how do you fix it? The great news is there are natural home remedies that work like a charm. Consider these seven home remedies when your kid has a mild upset stomach.
1. FRESH GINGER
Remember drinking ginger ale for stomach aches when you were a kid? It’s one of those old-fashioned home remedies that works. The tummy-soothing compound in ginger is gingerol. Gingerol is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that soothes stomach pain and decreases nausea. However, be aware most of today’s ginger ale is flavored to taste like ginger—it rarely has any real, natural ginger in it. Instead, slice fresh ginger thin and steep it in hot water for 15 to 30 minutes. Remove the ginger slices; if they need a touch of sweetener, adding honey will do the trick. You can also go with candied ginger, ginger chews, or crystallized ginger—but make sure whatever you choose contains pure ginger, not just ginger flavoring.
2. AVOID CERTAIN FOODS
If your child’s belly aches are more frequent, it could be something in their diet. Foods that can trigger digestive problems include spicy foods, fried foods, bubbly drinks, and dairy. Try removing these foods from your child’s diet to see if the problem disappears. Then, reintroduce each type of food one at a time to discover the troublemaker.
3. PROBIOTICS FOR KIDS
If your child has digestive problems, one reason could be an unhealthy gut. This is when the populations of healthy bacteria, or “gut flora,” in your child’s gastrointestinal tract have been damaged. Damage to gut flora can be caused by antibiotics, insufficient fiber in your child’s diet, and more. Probiotics can help by providing healthy bacteria to support your child’s healthy digestion. Flora’s Toddler’s Probiotic was specifically formulated to supply friendly bacteria for children ages 5 and under. This easy-to-use powder can be added to juice, yogurt, or formula. If your child is between 5 and 15 years old, Flora’s Children’s Probiotic was designed to support their healthy digestion as they grow. Both blends successfully survive stomach acids for maximum effectiveness.
4. SMALLER MEALS
Sometimes, we pile our kid’s plate as high as our own without thinking. Big meals can be too much for your child’s developing digestive system, making their tummies sore, especially after eating. Instead, smaller meals eaten more frequently can help reduce excess stomach acid. Think three meals plus two snacks. Encourage your kids to chew their food slowly and thoroughly rather than wolfing down their meals. This allows their digestive system to keep up.
5. PEPPERMINT TEA
Not only is peppermint tea refreshing, but it’s also a great tummy soother. The menthol in peppermint relaxes the muscles in the gastrointestinal tract to quickly relieve stomach aches and soreness. It also stimulates bile production, helping your child’s digestion work optimally. In addition to tummy aches, peppermint helps relieve nausea, heartburn, and bloating. However, reserve this home remedy for your school-age or older children. The menthol in peppermint tea can make babies and toddlers choke or cough.
6. HEAT IT UP
A hot water bottle or heating pad can be a ticket for an aching stomach. Have your child rest lying down with the heat source on their belly. Heat increases blood flow to the abdominal area, which helps reduce cramps and pain. This home remedy is beneficial for stress-related tummy aches. Resting quietly with the comforting heat source can reduce your child’s stress and help their stomach pain melt away.
7. BAKING SODA
Some children’s stomach aches are caused by excess stomach acid. The most obvious choice, in that case, is antacids. But there’s no need to give your child a strong commercial antacid like Tums when what you have sitting in your kitchen cupboard works just as well. Yup, baking soda! Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is the active ingredient in most drugstore antacids. It works quickly to relieve stomach upset, heartburn, and acid indigestion. Just mix a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of warm water for your child to drink.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
As a parent, it can be concerning when your child experiences digestive problems. While many cases can be resolved with simple changes to their diet or lifestyle, there are times when medical attention is necessary. If your child experiences severe or persistent stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or blood in their stool, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Additionally, if your child is experiencing symptoms that are interfering with their daily life—such as frequent episodes of nausea or difficulty swallowing—it may be time to consult a doctor. Remember, it is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your child’s health. If you are unsure whether your child’s symptoms require medical attention, it is always best to consult a healthcare professional.