5 Top Tips for Bellyaches

By Jennifer Bright

February 25, 2020 5 min read

Few things will tear your heart out more than watching your baby throw up. Most of the time, vomiting in children is caused by gastroenteritis, which is usually due to a virus. It's commonly called the stomach flu, though it's not really a flu at all. It can also cause stomachaches and diarrhea.

Once your baby starts eating table food, vomiting can be caused by food poisoning — but that's unlikely at this age.

Vomiting and diarrhea can be dangerous for babies because they can cause a baby to lose too much body fluid and become dehydrated. To prevent dehydration, continue to breastfeed your baby. If you give formula, your doctor might advise switching to a lactose-free one, which is easier for your baby to digest. Also talk with your doctor about giving your baby an oral rehydrating solution, such as Pedialyte.

The good news is that stomach bugs are called 24-hour bugs for a reason. They usually come and go quickly. Here's hoping your baby doesn't share the bug with you!

Here's what our mommy M.D.'s — doctors who are also mothers — do to prevent and treat vomiting in their babies.

"I'm very big on hand sanitizer to prevent illnesses like stomach bugs," says Kate Tulenko, M.D., M.P.H., a mom of two daughters and the author of "Insourced: How Importing Jobs Impacts the Healthcare Crisis Here and Abroad." Tulenko is also CEO of Corvus Health, a global health consultancy. "I have a bottle of sanitizer in every room of my house, plus in my purse. We sanitize all of the time. Even when my daughters were a year old, they knew how to rub their hands together when we squirted sanitizer gel on their hands."

"When my babies had upset bellies and vomited, I put them on the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce and toast," says Nancy Rappaport, M.D., a mom of three grown children, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, an attending child and adolescent psychiatrist in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and author of "The Behavior Code." It really didn't happen that often. We have a joke in our family that I'm the one who catches all of those bugs.

"When my twins were very young, they caught rotavirus," says Ann Contrucci, M.D., a mom of boy-girl twins who works as a pediatric emergency physician in Atlanta. "That was a nightmare. To keep my twins from getting dehydrated, we kept giving them Pedialyte and monitored their urine output and level of activity. Babies can get dehydrated very easily, so it is always a good idea to have your doctor evaluate your baby if there is a concern for that."

"I remember one of the worst nights of my twins' first year," says Brooke A. Jackson, M.D., a mom of twin girls and a son, a dermatologist, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology Associates in Durham, North Carolina, and author of the forthcoming book "Skincare for Runners." "It was when they both had rotavirus. One twin started throwing up and then the other one started. My husband was out of town, and I ended up sleeping on the nursery floor because I was concerned that one of the babies would choke. By the time you've changed their pajamas and bed sheets for the third time, there's nothing you can do but laugh! Fortunately, stomach viruses come and go quickly. It lasted just 24 hours, but these things do tend to happen when the husband is out of town!"

Dr. Rallie's Tips

"When my children were little, I gave them slippery elm bark for bellyaches. Because slippery elm bark is very mucilaginous, it coats and soothes the tissues of the digestive tract. It's also very nutritious. At Valley Forge, George Washington's troops reportedly sustained themselves through a long, cold winter by eating gruel made of the bark of the slippery elm tree. I'm perfectly happy when a mother tells me she plans to give her older baby a half-teaspoon of high-quality powdered slippery elm bark for a simple upset stomach. It works very well!" — Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., mom of three, co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby's First Year," nationally recognized health expert and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky.

Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran- owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: stevepb at Pixabay

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