As a parent, you know that it is important that your child receives optimum nutrition to help support their development. You focus on giving them the right food during mealtimes and healthy snacks, as well as the right milk, but sometimes digestive problems or child stomach pain can get in the way of proper nutrition. If your child experiences gas, frequent indigestion or constipation, they might have a sensitive tummy.
Child Stomach Discomfort: “My tummy hurts!”
If your child has problems with digestion, it could be a number of things, from gassiness, indigestion to an allergic reaction, or a sensitivity to lactose2. It’s best to consult with your child’s doctor to find out what’s troubling your child’s tummy.
Problems digesting cow’s milk is often the problem. While milk allergies can be especially difficult to manage, causing child stomach pain, and diarrhea, they are relatively rare1. However, lactose intolerance - the inability to digest lactose in milk - can develop as your child grows older and is more common, especially among Asians1. As milk is an important part of nutrition for children, milk with partially hydrolysed proteins (PHP) can help children’s digestion.
Indigestion without a known cause is also common in children. For this reason, it’s a good idea to give your child food that will help their sensitive tummy and prevent child stomach pain. Together with a balanced diet, there are many different kinds of food that can be helpful for better digestion.
To help your child have a happy tummy, here are some kinds of food you should try to include in their diet:
1. Partially Hydrolyzed Protein (PHP)
Children 1-3 years old get a large part of their nutrition from milk, and it can remain an important source of nutrition even if your child has digestion problems. This is a key component in child stomach pain management.
Proteins are large complex molecules, but protein in milk with partially hydrolyzed protein, has been broken down into a smaller size. This easy-to-digest partially hydrolyzed protein is derived from PHP (Protein Hydrolyzation Process) Technology.
Partially hydrolyzed protein is easy to digest and easy to absorb3.
Fat is an essential part of a healthy diet, aiding in proper nutrient absorption. In addition, some kinds of fat have been found to have important health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA, EPA and ALA) are among these fats. They’ve been found to reduce inflammation, and may even decrease the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases4 and proves to be an important addition in child stomach pain management.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to have numerous health benefits for children. DHA enhances brain health5, and it may also improve asthma6 and symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)7. While ALA is the only Omega-3 fatty acid with specific dosage guidelines, some studies have shown that 200-1300mg of combined DHA and EPA may prove to be beneficial5.
To get the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids, give your child fatty/oily fish such as salmon. Milk supplements with DHA can also help to provide the required Omega-3 fatty acids; consult your doctor for more information on how to include them as part of managing child stomach pain.
Milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) is a component found naturally in milk, and thanks to recent breakthroughs is now available in formula milk. Studies show a wide variety of benefits from improved digestion to anti-cancer properties8. Other benefits include supporting your child’s cognitive development, improving intelligence quotient (IQ) and emotional quotient (EQ), and strengthening immunity. One study in preschool children even suggests that consumption of MFGM may lead to fewer sick days and improved behaviour regulation9.
4. Reduced Lactose
Sensitivity to lactose (a sugar found in milk) is a common cause for digestive problems in children such as gas, bloating or diarrhea.
This reduced level of lactose makes the milk easier to digest. Lactose may play a role for the absorption of calcium and magnesium especially for children who are lacking lactose10. These minerals help build strong bones and teeth11, 12.
Fibre has many benefits for your child’s digestion and has been linked to a reduced risk of digestive conditions13 and child stomach pain. Simply put, soluble fibre acts like a brush cleaning your child’s digestive system. This is because it absorbs water and adds bulk to stool.
To add more fibre in your child’s diet, make sure to give your child lots of fruits and vegetables, such as apples and avocados. You can also switch to whole grain cereal and whole grain bread.
As parents, we focus so much on the food our children eat that we may overlook one of the most basic requirements for good nutrition: water. Water breaks down food and helps in the absorption of nutrients, and it also prevents constipation.
When you skip the fruit juices and sodas and give your children water instead, you’re helping their digestion and cutting down on unwanted sugars.
With the right nutrition, you could be on the way to saying goodbye to child stomach pain. A happy tummy means plenty of happy smiles and happy child.