The best foods for kids with tummy troubles aren't always the obvious choices. And the best foods to turn to are different depending on the cause.
If your child has gas...
Bloating, sharp pains, excessive burping, and passing gas often or with excessive force are all signs your child's digestive system is filled with intestinal gas. Pressing gently on the tummy to pop the bubbles can offer some relief, but some kid-friendly foods are great at reducing the causes of gas at the same time.
- Pineapples and papayas have enzymes that help break down proteins during the digestion process. They're also packed with vitamins and minerals and are tasty, too!
- Drink Kefir and other probiotic yogurt drinks or chamomile tea
- Ginger ale, ginger tea, and ginger candies or chews can help relieve gas and the pain it can cause.
If your child has diarrhea...
If your child has diarrhea, make sure they stay hydrated until the bout passes. Some foods add bulk to the digestive system and keep them hydrated, too.
- BRAT Diet: A diet of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast can help control diarrhea by adding bulk to your digestive system and replenishing nutrients and minerals lost as a result of loose stools.
- Offer lightly sweetened herbal teas, broth and other clear liquids.
- Make sure your child takes small sips of liquid and drinks at least 12 ounces of liquid an hour while symptoms persist. One risk of diarrhea is dehydration which, in some cases may become severe. Sports drinks, while not usually recommended for everyday consumption by kids, can be a rare treat when a child is down with a bad bout of diarrhea.
- Keep away from milk and dairy products. Milk products can worsen or bring back diarrhea symptoms. Do not give your child colas, highly sweetened juices, or caffenated drinks, as the high levels of sugar and/or caffeine will draw nutrients and water out of the body.
If your child is constipated...
If your child hasn't pooped in a couple of days and is complaining of stomach cramps or bloating, they're probably stopped up.
- Fiber-rich foods like broccoli, beans, berries, nuts, and whole grain breads can help break up the blockage over time. Give your child plenty of water to hydrate their system, too.
- Look to the basic P foods: pears, prunes, popcorn, sweet potatoes, and plums to keep your child regular once the constipation bout is over.
- Steer clear of white foods like cheese, milk, white starchy breads, and pasta until things are flowing regularly again.
- Have your child eat fruit instead of drinking it. Fruit juices leave out the natural fibers found in fruit that add bulk to stool and push it through the body more easily.
If things don't move along in a day or two, or if symptoms get worse, call your child's doctor to see if a dose of mineral oil, fiber supplement, or laxative is necessary.
If your child has nausea...
Whether it's carsickness, nausea from an illness, or something else is turning their tummy, a whiff of lemon, ginger, or mint can provide temporary relief. For longer-term solutions, try serving your little ones these tasty treats to help settle their stomach.
- Drink small sips of ginger ale, lemon water, lemon honey ginger tea, or mint iced tea.
- Serve a warm bowl of chicken soup, broth, or miso soup, or a fruity flavored ice pop.
- Saltine crackers and bananas work nicely as well.
If your child has acid reflux or heartburn...
Reflux and heartburn are caused when the muscle that shuts the esophagus doesn't close properly, letting digestive acids rise back up and irritate the system. If your child feels a burning in the chest and upper stomach, especially when lying down, it could be reflux. While certain foods can soothe their system, it's more important to steer clear of certain foods that cause reflux flare-ups.
- Avoid the following: fast food, fatty, spicy or fried foods, citrus fruits, mint, chocolate, or caffeine. Eating smaller meals more often can also help prevent flare-ups.
- To soothe reflux and heartburn, feed your child a banana, almond milk, ginger tea, or black licorice like Good N Plenty candies or natural licorice.
Many of the best foods for kids with tummy troubles are relatively shelf-stable. Stock up on your child's favorite remedies so you'll always be prepared for whatever nature throws at you and your child!