13 answers

3 Year Old Complains of Stomach Upset

My son has been complaining that his "tummy hurts" on and off for the past few days. He does not have a fever and though he will occasionally stand at the toilet and dry heave he has not thrown up. He is eating normally as well. This is an issue in the middle of the night and at bed time though twice he has complained during the middle of the afternoon. Now, pre-school is ending for the summer and he knows he will be going to a different school in the Fall, but other than that there isn't anything new going on in our home. I also don't think he swallowed something he shouldn't have (but hey you can't always be certain).
A friend had mentioned this might be growing pains, I am wondering if anyone else has had something similar with their child.

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I've actually had similar problems with my 3 yr old. She was complaining about her stomach and also her right knee. Again, nothing would have contributed to it and she was doing everything else normally. I spoke with her doctor and they said it was most likely growing pains. Eventually it passed and she hasn't complained about either in a while.

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A friend of mine had a similar experience with her daughter...she was about 3 years old and started complaining about stomach aches, and this went on every day for more than a year. It turns out that she had a lot of ear infections when she was a baby and was on antibiotics a lot. Her doctor suggested that she give the little girl some probiotics and shortly after starting her daughter on probiotics, her stomach aches went away. She had regulated the bacteria in her system and her gut was happy again. May be something to look at.


It could be a phase, or anxiety over the coming changes, but it could also very well be a medical concern. I would keep an eye on him the next few days, try not to "play into" him doing it. If it doesnt stop in a few days I would see a dr -- if not before. Its better to see the Dr than wait and have it be something bad.

Have you asked him if he needs to see the Dr? Or maybe just tell him maybe we need to see the Dr or go to the Hospital. If he is "faking" he will stop immediately. If he isnt, then you should know. My kids will stop instantly if I mention the dr or hospital.

My Daughter used to make herself sick every night at bed time -- all over her bed YUCK. Well, I got sick of cleaning that really quick, so the one night I told her if she did it again she had to clean it. Apparently she didnt believe me -- but after making her clean it once, she never did it again. I know not quite the same, but just thought I would share that kids do strange things for no good reason!


Hello E. M,

Your little 3 year old may have gas pain. Do you give him warm milk or tea? My advise is also to check the kind of food you serve him and make sure that he is eating on time. Do remember to consult with your doctor if all you have been trying is not working.


my 6yo daughter had the same thing & i fluffed it off for 2 years. In the fall i had her tested for allergies & she's allergic to milk, egg whites & partially wheat!! All this time i was giving her whole wheat bread, cholcolate milk, yogurt, etc & it was not agreeing with her. I would definately have your son checked for allergies....u never know.

My 2 1/2 year old is always saying he's sick...I always wonder if he really isn't feeling well or likes to say it...I don't know. But also has no symptoms, so I'm leaning towards it being a phase. But I would keep an eye on him, how he's eating, pooping, playing normal, etc.

The one thing I wanted to tell you about growing pains...My 5 year old was crying a lot around dinner time or when he'd go to bed saying his knees hurt, or his legs hurt so bad. I did a search for growing pains because I kept thinking it must be that...anyway, almost everything I found said that growing does not hurt and we label a lot of unknown pains as growing pains. But as far as my son I know he is SO active...he rides his bike through the park for hours at a time and from what I read it could just be straining muscles or overexertion or something. Anyway, all this to say, if he keeps complaining and you sense something is wrong, go get it checked.

Hopefully it's just a phase or something.
All the best!

I would call the ped, if he is dry heaving i would guess it is anxiety.

Good Luck!

I've actually had similar problems with my 3 yr old. She was complaining about her stomach and also her right knee. Again, nothing would have contributed to it and she was doing everything else normally. I spoke with her doctor and they said it was most likely growing pains. Eventually it passed and she hasn't complained about either in a while.

It's a stage. My son did the same thing. He'd say he had a headache and point to his tummy. He'd pretend to throw up and say "I'm so sick." or cough and say the same thing. It's just a phase.

I have a 3 year old who after being sick, continued to complain her stomach hurt. We began to ask her if it really hurt or if she was just saying that. She admitted she was "just saying that" and it passed. I suspect she was finding the complaint a good way to garner some attention- notwithstanding, she also enjoys playing doctor.

Maybe you can try talking to him about what might be going on with him, obviously in terms a little boy can understand, but to me this sounds like a classic case of anxiety. It might be that in the night when he is at rest is when he starts to think about the change in schools and that is why his stomach gets upset. Even though there may be no other changes, going to a new school is big for a young person. He may have also heard about something traumatic from a friend and is afraid it may happen to him. Let him talk, and if it helps, try having him draw or paint or use play dough to get him talking. Sometimes that is the best medicine.

I taught a 6 year old that would sometimes make himself throw up. He was very particular about what he ate - and it was deduced to anxiety and him not liking the feeling of a full stomach. He did grow out of it by the end of the school year.
I was also wondering if perhaps your son is getting enough water. I know when I'm dehydrated I feel very nauseous. Now that it's getting warmer and he's likely sweating more and running around outside more - he's going to need even more water than before. Just an idea. Good luck.

Hi E.
This sounds like a trip to the MD.
Why? Because you don't know what is going on, and it could be serious.
My mom explained deciding to take children to MD like this, when you don't know, want to know, and would be so upset if it was serious and you wait, or would be horrified if the authorities were called because you should have found out.
You can't guess on this one, call the MD.
Probably old enough to be your mom.
SAHM of 4, men 36, &32, and young ladies 18(yup they are twins), who were born just before our 20th wedding anniversary(yup that makes us married almost 38years)

my youngest son, now 16 had exactly the same issue when ever he had an anxiety attack! talk to your doctor! especially worrying about a new school! talk to him it may be the issue!

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