4 Year Old with Stomach Problems

Updated on March 25, 2008
K.R. asks from Sacramento, CA
11 answers

Hello, my concern is with my 4 year-old son's stomach problems. From his birth, he was breastfed. When I did give him formula, he needed the soy formula because he would spit up the others every time. He has woken up at night a handful of times since he has eaten regular food (not baby food) screaming, crying, crunching up his knees, etc like he is having stomach pain (sometimes the episode would last a little over an hour). Now he has been complaining almost every morning that his stomach hurts and doesn't want to eat breakfast. He has only gained about 2 or 3 pounds in the last year, but has grown almost 3 to 4 inches taller. I'm starting to get concerned that his stomach problems are interfering with his eating. Anyone experience this before? Any ideas? I've researched and thought maybe irritable bowel syndrome?

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answers from San Francisco on

I have had IBS for 40 years. Try cutting out milk and ice cream (lactose intolerance), tomatoe products, spices like pizza, spagetti sauce, gassy veggies like beans and sweet potatoes, bran cereals, orange juice (substitute mango or papaya juice, nuts etc. Eliminate one at a time. Mocha milk is non dairy, high in calories. Sorbet or soy based ice cream instead of real ice cream.

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answers from Chico on

You might want to try taking away certain foods ...but always check with the pediatrician first. It could be also what is called a "wheat gluten" allergy, or any other kind of allergy. What about milk products? Does he do ok with those? It is so hard to say and I am sure frustrating for you and for him especially. Call your pediatrician and document what he eats...you may come to the root of the problem by seeing what is triggering his tummy upset. My oldest son had similar issues and I found when he would have milk products before bed, he would complain of his tummy hurting, or have "#2" accidents in his big boy pants. I will say a prayer for him and for you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My suggestion is to keep a food journal and see if you can link specific foods to the episodes. That way, when you go to see the pediatrician, you'll have evidence and not have to start at square one again.

I don't have experience with IBS.

My almost three year old is lactose intolerant and also drank soy formula because of the spit up and discomfort. When he has yogurt, cheese or milk he gets stomach cramps in the night and often runny stool.

He drinks lactose-free milk which is in the grocery store in the regular milk section. Lactaid is one brand and some stores carry the lactose-free version of their regular milk brand (like Crystal, for example). He also chews a Lactaid chewable tablet before eating cheese, cottage cheese or yogurt.

Offer him a lactose free diet for a week and see if it makes a difference. FYI if you go this route: many soy yogurts add lactic acid. Look for yogurt that actually says lactose free on the label.

No matter what it is, your food journal should help the pediatrician eliminate certain things, like food allergies or intolerance.

Good luck. My son takes about three days to get back to "normal" after dairy issues so you might not see a drastic change the first day...



answers from San Francisco on

hi, Dear K.
Many 100 years ago
what did people do when they did not have any formular?
They cooked food for baby, and chew , and fed baby, look at piguins n some animals, they do the same
we r m/animals too.
my grand daughter got colitis i need brest milk



answers from San Francisco on

HI K.,
I would suggest staying away from meds to resolve your son's problem. There are many reason why he may be having the stomach problems and it would be good to keep a food journal for sure.
One the of the best things to do is keep his diet full of fruits and veggies or even just smoothies if he doesn't want to eat. Also giving him a good, organic probiotic will totally help him out. I have had motility issues, "IBS" etc. and nothing else help me except MiVitality probiotic. You will find many on the market but none that is certified organic inclusive of great superfoods and veggies in it. You can find it at www.lgorganics.com.
Good luck!



answers from Salinas on

Hello K.,
Your son might have problems absorbing nutrients. My daughter's digestive system improved drastically after giving her MealShakes for Kids by Shaklee, the fiber cleanses out their tummies and the vitamin supplements stimulate an appetite. Citriboost by Shaklee has Probiotics in them...easy to take just mix in their orange juice!
Learn more at
Good Luck!



answers from Sacramento on

does he have a milk allergy as well? or is it a form of milk products? maybe there's something in his diet that isn't agreeing with him. he could have acid reflux still. stomach acid can really hurt. what has the doctor said?



answers from Sacramento on

Hi K.,
What has your son's pediatrician said about your little guy's pains and low weight gain? Maybe you should ask the pediatrician for a referral to a pediatric gastroenterologist? I don't know what health plan or hospital you use, but I can highly recommend either my son's Ped GI (Dr. Philip MacDonald) or his partner in practice (Dr. Yinka Davies). They're affiliated with Sutter Memorial in Sacramento (F street). If your insurance doesn't cover Sutter, I could ask my son's Dr for the best Ped GI to recommend at Mercy, UCD, or Kaiser (or wherever). If your son does have something going on, it could be relatively simple to fix or help him with. There are a variety of things that might be causing the low weight gain and pains, but even the simplest is best helped by getting it checked out.
Take care!



answers from San Francisco on

K. my daughter had the same issues. She was lactose intolerant as well as had acid reflux when she was an infant. She eventually out grew it so they said. However,when she was about 3 to four years old she stopped eating anything. She wasn't hungry,her belly hurt and a few other things she would say.I took her to her doctor to find out she was so backed up with constipation. The doctor put her on Myralax(before it was available OTC). She also put my daughter on an extremely strict diet for 2 weeks...it consisted of NO dairy,boiled chicken, plain bagels with nothing on them,and whole wheat oatmeal. I said yeah right she's not going to eat any of this stuff. The doctor replied with "you'd be surprised". To my amazement she ate like there was no tomorrow. She "emptied out" finally after about 3 days of this diet as well as the Myralax. After the 2 weeks we put her back on a full diet and kept her on the Myralax,She is 8 years old now and is doing great.She no longer takes the Myralax everyday,only once a week and she is "regular" and without stomach pain. I hope this helps and maybe gives you a little encouragement.I would definetly ask his doctor about him possibly being backed up and lactose intolerant!! Good Luck to you blessings to you and your family.



answers from Merced on

Does he have regular bowel movements?



answers from San Francisco on

Please take your son to a pediatric GI. Our son had lots of digestive problems, and this was a critical step for us. In my non-medical opinion, it sounds like your son is having either GERD (reflux) or overall motility issues. How is his poop? Does he go every day? Does it look like hard little clumps or is it ever watery? Both are signs of constipation, which is very painful. You are smart to think about foods such as cow's milk triggering this. Our son couldn't tolerate either cow's milk or soy milk. We had to give him Pediasure and several meds. Pediasure costs a fortune (cheapest we found was Walmart) but many stores, including Walgreens, Safeway, and Target, have a store brand version for a bit less. Our doc had us give him Pediasure in lieu of either cow's or soy milk. It has tons of calories, too. There are other foods that could be causing issues, as could not chewing well enough or swallowing too much air while eating (because of talking a lot while eating or drinking while he still has food in his mouth). You son could also be having gas pains from swallowing air or from eating had to digest foods. The waking up at night and crunching his knees in pain sounds like constipation, gas, reflux, or all three. You might want to try keeping him on his back and moving his legs in a riding a bicycle motion to see if you can help him relieve some gas. We have had to do that for our 4.5 year-old recently because he had to have antibiotics (we're giving him yogurt with probiotics to help replace the good bacteria, too). As for lactose intolerance or IBS, both are unusual in kids this young bit not impossible. You can test for lactose intolerance but not IBS. I personally have both, and for all but the truly lactose intolerant (cannot have any dairy in any form w/out getting bad symptoms -- much more common in people of Asian descent than other ethnicities -- most of us are technically lactose maldigesters -- can have some without much problem but can't have high lactose content foods like straight milk or ricotta cheese), it is important that we get some dairy -- maybe a slice or two of cheddar or jack cheese. Also, yogurt w/ live cultures tends to have very little lactose (not sure it has any) because the cultures break down the lactose. Having a bit of dairy insures that the body continues to produce lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose. If you cut out all dairy, lactose intolerance can get worse. Again, a test (drink milk and then exhale into some monitor thing a couple of times over the course of a few hours -- it measures the levels of a gas produced, I believe, when your gut breaks down lactose) can give you an answer for that so that you do not limit dairy unnecessarily. Again, please try "bicycles" and seek help from a pediatric GI. With both my stomach problems and my son's, I have found that even the best general practitioners do not have the tools or knowledge to deal with slightly more complicated than average patients. I so feel you on this. It's so awful to see your child writhing in pain and not eating enough. If your son is falling off his personal growth curve for weight (regular pediatrician can tell you this if he/she has been tracking your son's growth appropriately), then your pediatrician should be able to get you in with a specialist more quickly. A pediatric GI can help you figure this out. Perhaps he/she will know what's going on right away or can go through an elimination diet process with you. Just so you know, the least allergenic foods are generally considered to be rice and lamb (though food allergies more commonly manifest themselves as rashes, congestion, or other typical allergy symptoms, not stomach pain) and the easiest to digest are bananas (not green!, rice, applesauce, and dry toast (known as the BRAT diet). Good luck!!!

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