Sip Chamomile Tea
Give your child a cup of chamomile tea (one cup of water per teabag), suggests Andrew Weil, M.D., a leader in the field of integrative medicine, whose books include Spontaneous Healing. “Chamomile tea is an excellent home remedy for uncomplicated stomach upsets because it possesses…anti-inflammatory and sedative properties, all of which may contribute to a lessening of abdominal discomfort,” says Dr. Weil. Chamomile relaxes the muscle of the upper digestive tract, easing the contractions that move food through the stomach and small intestines; this will relieve spasms and tummy cramps.
It’s okay to give your child soda when his stomach is hurting, as long as the soda is ginger ale, but fresh ginger tea is even better because it’s chock-full of ginger (and healthier). Ginger’s main ingredient is gingerol, a strong antioxidant that helps decrease the production of free radicals and their potential damage to the body; it also decreases nausea and discomfort. Plus, ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties increase digestive juices and neutralize stomach acids.
Reach for Peppermint
Peppermint tea is also refreshing and can ease the pain of a tummy ache. “Peppermint has been shown to have a calming effect on the stomach muscles,” says Dr. Sears. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, peppermint has the ability to improve the flow of bile, which the body uses for digestion. If your child refuses to drink tea, a peppermint candy, while not as potent, may settle her stomach.
Placing a hot water bottle or heating pad on your little one’s tummy while he’s sitting or lying down should relieve some of the pain, says Robyn Strosaker, M.D., a pediatrician at the Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. The reason: “Heat increases the blood flow to the skin surface, which can diminish the perception of pain coming from deeper in the abdomen,” she explains.
Rub the Foot, Using Reflexology
“There are thousands of nerves in the feet and hands that, when specific techniques are applied, can cause the entire body to relax and feel calmer,” says Laura Norman, a reflexology practitioner and author of Feet First: A Guide to Food Reflexology. The tummy region corresponds with the center arch of the left foot. Using a reflexology technique, hold your child’s left foot with the palm of your right hand and with your left hand under the ball of the foot, apply a steady, even pressure with your thumb.
Use a forward, caterpillar-like motion (press one spot, move a little forward, and repeat) to go across the foot. Switch hands and repeat from right to left, with the thumb of your right hand, and continue until you cover the center of the arch. “The child will respond positively to her mom’s loving touch, the parent feels wonderful for being able to help their child, and the parent-child connection is strengthened,” Norman adds.
Serve Bland Foods
If your child still has an appetite despite the tummy ache, let him eat small amounts of plain foods, like toast, pasta, oatmeal, yogurt, rice, and applesauce. Avoid sauces, condiments, or seasonings. “Bland foods are less irritating to the stomach and more easily digested than spicy or greasy foods,” says Dr. Strosaker. “These foods are not only less likely to induce vomiting, but they will help the gastrointestinal (GI) tract return to normal function more quickly.
Snack on Yogurt
Yogurt is effective for basic tummy cramps, and it’s a popular healing food for diarrhea, Dr. Sears says. “Normally, ‘good’ bacteria live in your intestines that help with digestion,” he explains. “If you have an intestinal virus or diarrhea, good bacteria can get flushed out, which can prolong the duration of the symptoms.” Eating yogurt with live cultures provides the active bacteria that can help get digestion back to normal, especially if your little one is going to the bathroom too often.