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Baby Symptoms & Conditions

Stomachache In Babies

How a toddler tells you her tummy hurts — and how you can figure out what’s causing it.

What is a stomachache like for a toddler?

Tummy troubles often start in the toddler years, and unfortunately, a tummy ache is likely to be one of the most common complaints you’ll hear throughout her childhood.

What could be causing my toddler’s stomachache?

She might say, “My tummy hurts,” whether she’s scarfed down too many cookies and juice, has to poo or possibly has something more serious going on. It’s most likely she just has gas pains, but she could have an abdominal blockage or have developed intussusception (where the intestinal wall folds in on itself — ouch!). And there’s a small, but possible chance she’s got appendicitis. In some toddlers, food allergies (like a lactose intolerance) can also be to blame.

When should I take my baby to the doctor with a stomachache?

If she has a fever, if you’re seeing blood in her stool or her vomit, or, of course, if she’s in pain (rather than just a little uncomfortable), call your doctor immediately or seek urgent medical treatment.

What should I do to treat my toddler’s stomachache?

If you think her bellyaches are caused by gas, try gently rubbing her belly in a clockwise motion. Kid-specific gas drops aren’t proven to work, but some moms swear they help alleviate symptoms in their children.

By Jennifer Shu, MD, pediatrician with Children’s Medical Group P.C. in Atlanta and author of Heading Home With Your Newborn (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010)