Those puppy dog eyes, and a chubby little hand on the belly are the telltale signs that your toddler has a sore tummy. Sometimes it can be mild, other times they may be writhing in pain, and toddlers are notorious for finding it difficult to explain their troubles. Here’s a handy checklist to work through if your little one is consistently complaining of a sore belly.
1. Toilet fear
The toddler years are really hectic – these little ones are learning so much, from walking to eating independently and of course, toilet training. Some children will be out of nappies in a jiffy, with no issues. Others may develop phobias around going to the toilet, so much so that they will hold on, rather than use the toilet.
We know as adults that if we don’t empty our bowels properly and regularly, it can result in stomach pain. If your toddler complains of a sore tummy, it’s worth asking if they have tried sitting on the toilet or potty, or even pop a nappy on just so they can clear their system and then try toilet training another day.
Children display the same symptoms as adults when they’re nervous and anxious, and what we recognise as ‘butterflies’ or ‘knots in our stomach’ may feel like a tummy ache to a toddler. Take the time to ask your little one if anything is worrying or upsetting them; it could be anything from separation anxiety to being upset that their favourite toy is lost.
If it appears that their troubles are causing physical symptoms, it’s worth paying a visit to the doctor.
3. Food intolerance
Sometimes, we’re able to pinpoint a particular food or part of our toddler’s diet that seems to give them tummy issues, and this is what’s commonly known as a food intolerance. This is very different from an allergy, which causes an immune system reaction. An intolerance will cause discomfort and can often be linked to foods like dairy products, strawberries, tomatoes, citrus and certain food additives.
If you suspect that dairy products – and mostly particularly milk – could be a problem with your little one, it may be worth seeing if their tummy pain coincides with drinking cow’s milk. If this seems to be the culprit, you could try goat’s milk instead. Children often find it easier to digest because of the much higher levels of prebiotic oligosaccharides (wonderful little prebiotics that do terrific things to promote good gut health and generally aid digestion). There are even specific goat’s milk toddler milks available, made with sensitive little tummies in mind.
4. You ate what?!
Toddlers are just getting the hang of feeding themselves, and this new freedom can sometimes lead to them ingesting something that wasn’t intended for human consumption (garden worms, anyone?). It’s worth asking your child if they happened to put something in their mouth that they shouldn’t have!
If you suspect it’s something potentially poisonous, make sure you call the Poisons Information Hotline, call an ambulance or head to your nearest emergency department.
5. You ate how much?!
If your toddler’s tummy troubles coincide with a period of silence and an open pantry, chances are they’ve been into something they shouldn’t have. Empty packets of lollies or chocolate wrappers are a dead giveaway, and there is plenty of truth in the old adage that you can have too much of a good thing!
Of course, there are times when a tummy ache is linked to being unwell, particularly if it comes on really suddenly. Illnesses like gastro and other viruses can cause pretty severe tummy pain, but generally these won’t require any medication. Urinary tract infections can also cause pain in the tummy area. Bacterial infections usually need treatment with antibiotics, but it’s best to head to the doctor if you suspect your child’s tummy ache is the result of sickness.
Toddlers can seem indestructible, and while they may keep playing even after injury for fear of missing out, it might not be until later on that they complain of pain. Ask your toddler if they hurt themselves, and if they can’t remember, talk to them about where they played and what they did, and you may be able to deduce that they fell or hurt their belly.
If you think they have hurt their tummy area, as a precaution take them to be checked out by a health professional.
While you may think you have been able to pinpoint the cause of your toddler’s distress, if your child does have severe tummy pain that doesn’t subside, make sure you have them assessed by a doctor.
(This is a sponsored post for Oli6 – The Naturally Smarter Choice)