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Does your child frequently complain about tummy aches? While no one enjoys an upset stomach, belly pain affects a lot of children, so parents shouldn’t become too concerned if their son or daughter once again feels a little queasy or achy.

Of course, a doctor should check out persistent belly pain that lasts for more than a day, but for minor aches, making a few changes to your child’s diet can dramatically reduce the number of tummy aches he or she experiences. Here are a few tips to try.

Add More Fiber

The key to a healthy tummy for both children and adults, fiber helps flush the digestive system out so foods we eat move quickly through and out of the body. Parents should focus on having their kids eat more fruits and vegetables, which contain both soluble fiber- the kind the body successfully breaks down- and insoluble fiber, which the body does not break down.

However, parents must be careful about feeding their kids too much fiber, as excess fiber can cause bloating and gas, which will only lead to your children experiencing a different type of stomach ache. Kids between the ages of one to three need about 14 grams of fiber a day, which equals one whole-wheat English muffin or a medium sized banana. Children between the ages of four to 14 need anywhere from 17 to 25 grams of fiber a day, depending on their sex and age.

Pack Yogurt in Their Lunch Box

While most dairy products can actually cause further stomach distress, yogurt contains an abundance of healthy cultures called probiotics, which help the body better digest food and removes harmful bacteria from the stomach. By placing a cup of yogurt in your child’s lunch box or offering a yogurt parfait for breakfast, you can help to improve your child’s digestion.

Reduce the Sugar

In addition to what a diet high in sugar can do to your child’s weight and to the health of her teeth, some types of sugars are hard for the stomach to digest. Eating too much sugar can leave your child feeling gassy and suffering from uncomfortable cramping. Eating large amounts of any kind of sugary foods, including soda, fruit juice and fruits, can cause problems with digestion. Sugary sodas can cause dual problems, as the carbonation in these types of drinks can also cause gas and bloating.

Treating Problems with Digestion

While changing your child’s diet can help improve their digestion in the long run, parents will still have to deal with the occasional digestive problems. Here are a couple of tips on how to deal with a few common problems, including:

  • Constipation. For most children suffering from constipation, the best remedy is having them eat more fiber. Adding more high-fiber cereals, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits to your child’s diet can help him become regular once again. Make sure your child drinks plenty of water when constipated, as more water will help soften stool and keep food moving through the intestinal system.
  • Diarrhea. While ongoing diarrhea is a serious condition that requires medical attention, adding more fiber to your child’s diet can often treat sporadic or minor diarrhea. Parents should also reduce the amount of sugar their child consumes. Foods like bananas and oatmeal can help to bulk up a child’s stool.
  • Stomach virus. If your child is suffering from a stomach virus, treat the bug by making sure your child drinks plenty of fluids to keep from becoming dehydrated. Once he can keep down liquids, feed him some simple foods such as dry toast or applesauce. After your child’s appetite begins to improve, begin feeding him small portions of protein to help build strength and provide his body with more energy.

Timothy Lemke is a freelance health writer. To read more of his work, visit the website of Dr. William Elliott, an Oregon City dentist.


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