According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, stomachaches in children happen for all sorts of reasons. Stomach or abdominal pain that continues to occur is common, but usually not serious. Some common reasons for vomiting in children and babies include reflux or infection of the stomach, intestines and/or urinary tract. Sometimes, they vomit for unknown reasons.  

Diarrhea can start quickly and can last from seven days to two weeks, with several loose bowel movements throughout the day. There is no safe medication treatment for diarrhea in children, but it will usually stop on its own. Children may also experience a fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and a loss of appetite.   

Here are several tips for managing vomiting and diarrhea, and when to seek medical help:  

How to Manage Vomiting

Encourage your child to drink smaller amounts of liquid more frequently. This will help to prevent dehydration. Children under 1 year old should continue drinking breast milk or formula. Children older than 1 year old should stick to a clear liquid diet until there is no vomiting for eight hours. Examples of clear liquids include water, diluted juice, broth and gelatin. After eight hours of no vomiting, children can progress to a BRAT diet that includes bland foods such as bananas, rice, applesauce and toast.

How to Manage Diarrhea

Give your child plenty of liquids. This will help to prevent dehydration. Continue to feed your child regular foods. Your child can continue to eat the foods they normally eat. This includes breast milk or formula for infants. You may need to feed your child smaller amounts of food than normal. You may also need to give your child foods that they can tolerate. These may include rice, potatoes and bread. It also includes fruits, well-cooked vegetables, lean meats, yogurt and skim or 1% milk. Avoid giving your child foods that are high in fiber, fat and sugar.

When to Call Your Pediatrician

If your child has abdominal pain that comes on suddenly or persists it may require prompt attention, if your child has additional symptoms, such as a change in bowel pattern, vomiting, fever (temperature of 100.4°F or higher), sore throat or headache.  

Here are some symptoms to watch out for and make a primary care appointment:

  • A baby is younger than 1 year and shows signs of stomach pain, which can include legs pulled up toward the abdomen or unusual crying
  • A child ages 4 or younger has a recurrent stomachache or if abdominal pain awakes them or stops them from getting to sleep.

When Parents Should Consider Taking Their Child to the Emergency Department

If a child is experiencing these symptoms, they need emergency care:

  • Your child's vomit contains blood, bile (green substance) or it looks like it has coffee grounds in it
  • Your child is irritable with a stiff neck and headache
  • Your child has severe abdominal pain
  • Your child says it hurts to urinate, or cries when urinating
  • Your child has signs of dehydration such as a dry mouth, crying without tears, or urinating less than three times in a 24-hour period
  • Your child’s eyes look sunken in, or the soft spot on your infant's head looks sunken in
  • Your child cannot drink any liquids 
  • Your child has blood during bowel movements
  • Your child has a seizure
  • Your child seems confused, is not answering you or you cannot wake them

For immediate care, visit the Arkansas Children's Emergency Departments in Little Rock and Springdale, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.