Especially if you are a first-time parent, you might be surprised at how many kids have problems with their digestion, either because of tummies that get frequently upset or because of issues like constipation. However, there are plenty of lifestyle changes you can make that can help your child achieve better digestion without resorting to prescription medications or other procedures.
Read on to find out more about home remedies to improve your child’s digestion.
Get Your Fruits, Veggies and Grains
One of the first things to do when trying to take care of digestive problems is to take a look at your diet. Are you getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet? What about whole grain products like whole grain pastas or breads? If not, try to work these in. Not only will you be getting tons of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but you’ll be adding fiber as well. Fiber is able to clean out the digestive tract and prevent problems like constipation. You can also talk to your doctor about adding dietary fiber like Metamucil to the diet as well.
Watch the Meat
You don’t have to go vegetarian, but at least consider cutting down on meat if your child has digestive problems. Meat is denser than grains or vegetables and takes longer and is harder to digest — and this can make digestive problems worse. So think about ways you can serve up delicious meatless meals that your kids will enjoy without missing the meat, such as bean burgers or a veggie stir-fry.
Watch What You Drink as Well
Water is still the best drink that your child can have from day to day — but it is hard for water to compete with soft drinks, juice cocktails, sports drinks and the hundreds of other drinks now on the market. If you cut down on these kinds of drinks and make sure your child is drinking mostly water, your child will be better hydrated and this can makes it easier to digest their food. Digestion is a process that takes a lot of water!
If your child’s stomach gets upset a lot, try to figure out if anything seems to be triggering it. While everyone is different, some common culprits include spicy foods, chocolate, dairy products or products with gluten. Keep a journal in order to see if there are any patterns and if, for example, you suspect that dairy might be a problem, eliminate it for a week or two and see if digestive problems improve.
Drink Peppermint or Ginger Tea
If you are wanting to treat indigestion naturally, try getting your child to drink either peppermint or ginger tea. It might take them a while to get used to them, but they have also been shown to help soothe down upset stomachs and prevent other problems like nausea.
Consider Papaya Enzymes
Papaya enzymes are another natural remedy to help improve digestion. They can be bought at most health food stores, chewed like Rolaids, and most children like them because they are sweet. They are also great at relieving heartburn and indigestion – however, as with any natural remedy, consult with your doctor first just to be on the safe side.
Don’t Bolt Your Food
If your child sits down at the table and downs their meal in five minutes, try to work with them on this and teach them how to chew their food slowly and take their time. Simple changes in habits like this can make a big difference in digestive health.
Don’t Go To Sleep Right After a Meal
Make sure that after eating any meal that your child stays up for at least an hour if possible – which means not scheduling naps for immediately after lunchtime and allowing adequate time before dinner and bedtime. This can help prevent attacks of reflux which are painful and which, over time, can actually damage a child’s esophagus.
Keeping active is not just about building strong muscles or maintaining a healthy weight. Regular exercise also increases peristalsis, the muscular movements that push food through the digestive system and make it easier for the body to break down food. Schedule playtime in the backyard, go for walks after school, and cut down on screen time to make sure your child stays active.
If These Tips Don’t Work….
However, keep in mind that if these tips don’t work, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns. At-home and natural remedies are great and can help many children, but sometimes a doctor’s exam and more aggressive treatment is needed to help improve digestion. These digestive problems may indicate that your child has a more serious underlying condition that needs to be addressed.
In short, good digestion is often a matter of diet, hydration, exercise and using natural remedies to keep things on track. These treatments can take time to be effective but in most cases can help resolve the problem. It is good to keep in mind, however, that a trip to the doctor might be necessary if lifestyle changes aren’t having an effect.