Years ago, we had about three months of sickness after sickness. My then 2-year-old daughter Leah had a week of throwing up – an entire week!
When big brother Paul came down with something two weeks later and threw up, she watched it happen, and with utter glee (I kid you not) on her face, cried, “Paul’s frowing up! Paul’s frowing up too!” I think she was glad to have someone to empathize with.
“Mommy, my tummy hurts!” is a phrase that’s been striking dread in the hearts of mothers for centuries.
When one of my kids says they have a tummyache, I do the same thing I did as a third-grade teacher: I tell them to go to the bathroom right away (in a calm voice).
This serves two purposes:
If they’re going to vomit, they’re in a room that’s easier to clean up! Learn from my wisdom that a child can state a tummyache and be throwing up within seconds. 🙁
Sometimes kids aren’t as tuned in to their bodies as they might be, or they’re a little constipated, and a good poo fixes them right up.
Anything you can DO for a child makes them feel like they’re being cared for, and there’s a great psychological aid there too.
If a tummyache is settling in, a good line of questioning to help a child identify if they might be feeling nausea when they don’t have experience with that sensation is:
- Does your neck/throat hurt or feel funny? (Sometimes my little ones can’t identify the “throat” because they can’t see it, so “neck” is how they describe nausea or sore throats.)
- Is your mouth really dry?
- Are you burping a lot?
- Does it feel funny when you swallow? (This could be a sore throat for non-nausea reasons of course, but good data to collect.)
Wish You Knew All the Answers to Keep Your Family Healthy?
How about a crash course?
I’d love to send you a 7-day “Quick Start Guide” email mini-course to give you Health Agency! When something goes wrong in your family, YOU can be the agent of healing and not allllllways have to call a doctor for every little thing.
Imagine this email series as a virtual chat over the backyard fence with your own neighbor, a wise older mom who’s raising 4 kids with intention, trying to avoid unnecessary medication and being kind to the earth.
Looking forward to connecting to help you learn EXACTLY what you need to know to stock your natural remedies “medicine cabinet,” deal with normal childhood ailments, and even the dreaded, “What’s that on my skin?” issue! 🙂
A child who is about to throw up often LOOKS sick: pale, gaunt face and eyes, tired. But not always! Keep your parental guard up!
Our next step with tummy aches is often to grab our throw-up bucket while we hang with the child. Never hurts to be prepared!
If you don’t want to have a dedicated throw-up bucket, do what my mom did and take the liner out of a bathroom trash can to use that. I know some people use a very large kitchen bowl, but I don’t know…splashing. Ew. I prefer nice and deep!
Anti-Nausea Foods for Stomachaches in Kids
Ginger, peppermint, and fennel are all age-old remedies for that queasy feeling.
Peppermint tea is also very affordable and easy to find, and we keep small candy canes in our van for motion sickness for this very reason. Natural food coloring versions (we get them from ALDI) are even better, but I don’t sweat it too much in small amounts when it’s really needed!
You can also use peppermint essential oil in a vaporizer or just a drop or two on a tissue as a strong anti-nausea remedy.
Fennel makes a pretty strong tea that kids might not like, but you can grab a few whole fennel seeds and chew them for a quick, no-sugar possibility to ease nausea. They’re great for general digestion and constipation too as we discussed here.
For a “plug-and-play” option that includes mint, ginger, and a few other scents, try Plant Therapy‘s “Tummy All Better” from the KidSafe line. We have it in a pre-diluted roll-on, but diffusing full strength is a great idea too for instant relief from a queasy tummy.
Remedies for Vomiting: Herbs and Spices
The Feel Better Fast tincture from Earthley is indicated for nausea and tummy aches of any kind. It contains:
- Organic Echinacea Root
- Organic Fennel Seed
- Organic Astragalus Root
- Organic Elder Flower
- Organic Cinnamon
It’s the kind of thing you CAN make at home, but I choose to use the very affordable Earthley brand because I have a finite amount of time in the day — guessing you do too.
Bentonite Clay Helps All Sorts of Tummy Pains
Bentonite clay is “adsorbent” which is a very unique and powerful quality. It somewhat “soaks up” what’s around it, making it a great choice for topical owies as well as problems in the gut.
The clay particles are negatively charged and when taken internally, they magnetically attract the mostly positively-charged toxins, bacteria, viruses, metals, radioactive contaminants, etc onto their surface and out through elimination.
Clay can be used for both diarrhea and nausea/vomiting — told you it was unique!
Use Redmond Clay to make DIY capsules to swallow, or you can mix a very thick little blob with dry clay and a small bit of water (approximately equal amounts) and swallow that little chunk without a capsule. That’s probably best for adults, and this remedy is for use when the stomach hurts and you’re worried you might throw up.
Another option that’s better for kids is to mix up a quick slurry:
- 1 tsp. dry bentonite clay
- About half a glass of water
It’s pretty icky to drink when it’s just mixed up, so give it a few minutes to settle (or a few hours in the fridge for later sips). The water off the top of the mixture still retains the adsorbent quality.
Try little sips to help keep things down, although keep in mind that when actively vomiting, putting ZERO into the mouth is the best course of action.
Homeopathy: Fast Acting Remedy for Vomiting
The only exception to the “nothing by mouth” rule would be the tiny pellets of a homeopathic medicine.
I’ve just started learning so much more about homeopathy and I must say, I’m impressed. I’ve been dabbling in it for a decade but never really saw a conclusive success. Let me tell you about one night when I tried the quick-acting arsenicum album for nausea.
I woke up at about two in the morning feeling absolutely awful. My stomach was in knots. And I felt 80% sure I had gotten some sort of stomach bug or another issue that was going to cause me to spend the next few hours hugging the porcelain throne.
I happened to be taking arsenicum album already as part of an eczema protocol (which is working amazingly, I might add). So I reached over to grab it and took a few pellets by mouth.
There was no sleeping to be had. I literally clutched the small glass vial from Washington Homeopathic Products and tried to wait at least five minutes, so I could take another dose.
Five minutes later, a few more little pills under my tongue, and more face-scrunched, hand clutching, just praying that I could stay in bed the rest of the night.
By the time I was taking my third dose five minutes later, I was 100% sure that my symptoms were beginning to abate. I didn’t feel like a million bucks yet. After all, it was two in the morning. But now I felt only 40 to 50% certain that I was going to toss my cookies.
One more dose and I could release my death grip on my dear arsenicum album and set it back on the nightstand; and the next thing I knew, it was morning.
Friends, that’s what I call a conclusive success. It’s definitely worth the $15 or so it will set you back to have this remedy on hand. Homeopathics never expire, so you are investing in many years of helping your family kick nausea and impending throw-up incidents.
30c is the potency recommended for general problems like a touch of nausea. In my opinion, if you feel like you are about to lose it, go right to 200c, which is stronger.
Activated Charcoal for Food Poisoning and More
If you suspect food poisoning, arsenicum album is still a great remedy. But activated charcoal is another that comes highly recommended by many.
It is able to soak up the poison, so to speak, and can be taken in capsules or powder mixed into food or water. Obviously, if you or your child is already vomiting, this is really breaking the nothing-by-mouth rule. Activated charcoal is going to do a lot better if you can catch things early when there’s just the tummyache and nausea.
I would still default to arsenicum album myself since it’s so much easier to take. But if you don’t have it, and you do have charcoal around, it’s very kid-friendly.
If your child can’t swallow a capsule, charcoal is quite tasteless. You can mix it into juice or applesauce. And although it looks totally crazy (completely black) if the child can get over the eyeballs (or try to feed them blindfolded), getting charcoal in a nauseous body is often very helpful.
If I was sure I had food poisoning, I would definitely be trying charcoal capsules even while vomiting; but I would try my best to get the homeopathics under the tongue.
My husband did have food poisoning once, and I must say that the charcoal just did not have time to get out of the capsules before they came back out of him (so sorry for that image). I did not have homeopathic knowledge at the time.
At the very least we hoped charcoal would help reduce symptoms the next day on the other end, as you often see with food poisoning.
Silver for E. Coli and Food Poisoning
I had a chance to chat with the founder of 3rd Rock, who is a super-smart guy and always makes me feel like I need another college degree to speak with him. He formulated chelated silver oxide and has done lots of research on how it can be used.
From a topical anti-microbial to an internal gut soothing agent to an effective sunscreen, 3rd Rock’s silver wears many hats. In this case, there’s some research that shows that silver can kill e. coli.1
Again, if you are totally certain food poisoning is your nemesis, the nothing-by-mouth rule goes out the window and I would throw everything at the problem that I could.
The Silver Infusion 16-ounce bottle has so many uses that having it around to take by the spoonful in case of food poisoning is a no-brainer. Get 20% off 3rd Rock with the code KITCHENSTEW.
Silver nanoparticles have been shown in studies to “be active against several types of viruses.”
3rd Rock’s Silver Excelsior Serum and Silver Infusion Tonic has their patented Chelated Silver Oxide. It’s different and unique in the silver world compared to common, run-of-the-mill ‘colloidal silver’ (source).
This silver is high quality with many health-benefits. Containing amino acids, citrates, and kosher vegetable USP grade glycerin, 3rd Rock silver sticks to and penetrates cell walls—delivering silver oxide straight to cells to bolster their fight against infections in and on the body.
How to Clean Up Vomit
One of my worst fears is vomit getting on things that are hard to clean. It used to be vomit in general, but having kids lowers your standards for bodily excretions.
Tip #1: Double sheet the beds
I never thought this tip would be something worth sharing because I thought everyone knew it, but last year at a friend’s twin’s baby shower I discovered that almost none of my friends knew this trick.
For quick and easy clean up of not just throw-up, but baby spit-up, wetting the bed, and poopy blow-outs, double sheets are imperative. You can get a messy crib ready for a fussy baby with one hand within 15 seconds.
Please don’t think I’m speaking down to you when I explain exactly how this is done. Again, I wouldn’t do it if my dear friend and mother of three hadn’t said, “Double sheeting never works for me because the pee always goes through to the second sheet anyway.” Dear friends, you need TWO waterproof pads. This is key.
First the waterproof pad on top of the mattress……then sheet number one……then another waterproof pad (this is a nice one that goes all the way around the mattress, but any old crib-sized pad will do)……and finally your top sheet. Ta da!
Added Bonus: If you worry about your child’s mattress off-gassing because you can’t afford organic, there are now more layers between your baby and the chemicals.
Timesaver: When the top sheet gets dirty, you just pull it and the pad underneath off, bunch them off and use tip #2.
Tip #2: Throw yucky clothes in the bathtub
When babies, toddlers, and preschoolers throw up, you never quite know where it will go.
The toilet is a long shot for this age group. Clothing, carpet, couches, and blankets are all likely targets, and children aren’t about to be calm and content while you take care of germ-infested, stench-filled garments. You can’t always get them right to the washing machine and address the vomiting issue right away.
You don’t want to spread anything around the house. (I’m convinced that parents of babies get sick when babies get sick because of poopy diapers and getting thrown up on. How can you avoid the virus when it’s all over you?)
The solution? Use your bathtub as a staging ground. For most people, the bathroom is central enough to the bedrooms that it’s quick and easy to get there. You can wash and sanitize the hard surface easily (later, when the kids are feeling better).
Sometimes when babies are sick with a throw-up bug, the pile of clothes (yours + theirs + bedding) can become impressive after a few hours of unpredictable projectile puking. Take it easy on yourself and toss everything in the tub until further notice.
Final Thoughts on Stomachaches in Kids
When you’ve tried what you have and they’re still throwing up anyway and you just have to get through it, stronger on the other side learn from the wisdom of a mom who’s been covered in it with tips to shorten the recovery with a real food B.R.A.T.Y. diet.
And call me weird, but I always took the opportunity of a stomach virus to coach my kids (after the fact): “Now you know what it feels like right before you’re going to throw up. I know it’s yucky, but try to remember those feelings. Remember how your mouth felt, how your throat felt, where your tummyache sat. Next time if you have to throw up again, it’s an awesome big-kid skill to be ready for it and hit the bucket instead of all over yourself…”
I’ve had VERY few nasty clean-up incidents after my kids are about 3 years old, so please steal that strategy! It works!
- Salem, W., Leitner, D. R., Zingl, F. G., Schratter, G., Prassl, R., Goessler, W., Reidl, J., & Schild, S. (2015). Antibacterial activity of silver and zinc nanoparticles against Vibrio cholerae and enterotoxic Escherichia coli. International journal of medical microbiology : IJMM, 305(1), 85–95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijmm.2014.11.005