Tummy Ouchies: What Parents Can Do When Kids Have A Stomachache

Kids can get stomachaches for all sorts of reasons — here’s what causes them and what parents can do.

The first sign parents notice that their kids are uncomfortable is stomachaches. But a stomachache has different kinds of pain. Cramping, twisting, bloating, and sometimes even stabbing — these usually can tell us what the culprit is and thus, the proper treatment. Although a warm water bag always relaxes the cramps, here are some of the other things parents can do when kids get stomachaches.

Stomachaches can be caused by a lot of things.

1. Bring them to a quiet place.

Known also as “butterflies in the stomach,” when a kid gets a stomachache with a “fluttering” kind of pain (or as if something’s bouncing around in it), the new environment may usually be the cause. When there are too many loud sounds like children screaming, airplanes rushing in, or even parents hollering, it can make their stomachs turn.

To help their stomach settle down, take them to a quiet place and have them drink water or their favorite drink. Make sure they drink it slowly so they don’t vomit it out of shock.

2. Give them water to drink.

When the food’s just too good, kids forget to chew and go straight to swallowing. And unless they have strong stomach muscles and drink a lot of water, they’re prone to indigestion. It’s a cramping pain that usually happens at the center of the abdomen, right above the stomach. Kids will then struggle burping, and farting, and will have hiccups. Some kids don’t even show those signs and instead, just get lethargic and have headaches.

If they have this, drink a lot of water. But if the food is solid like Fried Chicken, Liempo, or even large pieces of meat, this is one of the few times soda is considered a medicine. The acid will help break the food down faster and because it’s carbonated, it’ll encourage them to burp. Although tea helps just as well, kids may prefer soda because it’s sweet.

3. Avoid feeding them anything oily or rich first.

Especially if their last meal “tasted funny” or had them puking, nothing rich or oily first. The probiotics (or the “good bacteria”) in their stomach are still adjusting and healing from the shock. But they still need food for energy so a soft and healthy diet like bananas, soup and rice, soup, yogurt, and even bread will give them the nutrients they need and time for the stomach to recover.

Pasta may also be a good choice but nothing too salty like mac n’ cheese or oil-based like aglio olio first. Tomato-based ones help because of the acids that break down the rich food.

4. Avoid making them lie down.

Cramping pains from indigestion come from our kids’ stomachs struggling to “push” food down. Making them lie down will make that even harder so having them sit up will allow gravity to take over. To make the food “go down” faster, drinking water can melt the blockage in their stomach to lessen the pain.

5. Make them lie on their stomach if gassy.

The only time it’s okay to make a kid lie on their aching stomach is if they have gas. While it’s normal to build up gas, some kids and babies have a hard time doing so, creating that bloating pain we know as kabag and for babies — colic. One way to tell if our kids’ stomachaches are because of gas is when their stomachs look bloated like a balloon and pressing on it relieves some of the pain because they burp or fart.

For babies, some parents increase the amount of “tummy time” to help them pass gas. Others encourage their baby to “pedal” or kick so they can fart more.

Older kids may find it more comfortable to press a pillow against their stomach or a hot water bottle to soothe their stomachache.

6. Change their “milk.”

A milk allergy or what we know as lactose intolerance is also another reason why kids get stomachaches. Unfortunately, it’s a racial genetic issue: Asians, unless they come from an ancestry that dealt with a lot of milk and cows, don’t have the enzyme known as lactase — an important component that breaks it down (Mahdi et. al, 2021). The stomachache from a milk allergy is usually a twisting kind.

Severe cases of lactose intolerance usually have the kids going to the bathroom and staying there for a long time. Others may result in them vomiting it out (Robles and Priefer, 2020; del Carmen Tocaa et. al, 2022).

Although there are medicines to help counter that, some parents just feed their kids plant-based milk instead. To make sure their kids have enough calcium, they usually increase their Vitamin D intake by having them go more into the sun while eating more fish, sesame seeds, and certain kinds of cheese like Swiss cheese, parmesan, cheddar, cottage cheese, and feta cheese which is usually made from goat milk.

Kids don't do well with stomachaches

Some stomachaches in kids can mean something else!

Besides the stomach, there are other organs in that area like the appendix or even the liver. But those organs usually have their way of showing that there’s something wrong with kids. If it’s the liver, the pain will be from the left side and our kid’s eyes would be yellow. Appendicitis usually has a chronic pain that goes away and throbs even more when we press against it.

But if it’s purely just a stomachache, knowing what caused it in the first place gives us a good idea of how to treat it. And if all else fails, it’s time to consult our pedia.


del Carmen Tocaa, M., Fernándezb, A., Orsic, M., Tabaccod, O., & Vinderolae, G. (2022). Lactose intolerance: myths and facts. An update. Arch. Argent. Pediatr120, 59-66.

Mahdi, Z. A. A., Al-Khafaji, N. S., Al-Dahmoshi, H. O., Akram, M., Rashid, A., Waqas, S. M., Riaz, T., Laila, U., Zainab, R., Zainab, R., Iftikhar, M., Khalil, M. T., Anwar, H., Saeed, M. M., Zhao, B., Mbaye, E. H. S., Bhattacharya, D., & Ozdemir, F. A. (2021). Genetics of Lactose Intolerance: Minireview.

Robles, L., & Priefer, R. (2020). Lactose intolerance: What your breath can tell you. Diagnostics10(6), 412.

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