Symptom Definition

  • Pain or discomfort located between the bottom of the rib cage and the groin crease
  • The older child complains of a stomachache
  • The younger child should at least point to or hold the abdomen (after 6-12 months old). Prior to 6 months the Crying protocols should be used

See More Appropriate Topic If

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You suspect poisoning with a plant, medicine, or chemical
  • Unable to walk or walks bent over holding the abdomen
  • Pain mainly low on the right side
  • Pain in the scrotum or testicle
  • Severe pain anywhere
  • Pain (or crying) present > 2 hours
  • Blood in the bowel movements or vomiting blood
  • Vomiting bile (yellow or green)
  • Recent injury to the abdomen
  • Age under 2 years
  • Fever > 104°F (40°C)

Call Your Doctor within 24 Hours (between 9 and 4) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen

Call Your Doctor during Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Abdominal pains are a recurrent problem

Parent Care at Home If

  • Mild abdominal pain and you don't think your child needs to be seen

Home Care Advice for Mild Abdominal Pain

  1. Reassurance: A mild stomachache can be caused by something as simple as indigestion, gas pains or overeating. Sometimes a stomachache signals the onset of a vomiting illness from a virus. Watching your child for 2 hours will usually tell you the cause.
  2. Rest: Encourage lying down and resting until feeling better.
  3. Clear Fluids: Offer clear fluids only (e.g. water, flat soft drinks or 1/2 water 1/2 fruit juice).
  4. Prepare for Vomiting: Keep a vomiting pan handy. Younger children often refer to nausea as a "stomachache."
  5. Pass a BM: Encourage sitting on the toilet and trying to pass a BM. This may relieve pain if it is due to constipation or impending diarrhea.
  6. Avoid Medicines: Any drug could irritate the stomach lining and make the pain worse. Do not give any medicines for stomach cramps.
  7. Expected Course: With harmless causes, the pain is usually better or resolved in 2 hours. With gastroenteritis, belly cramps may precede each bout of vomiting or diarrhea. With serious causes (such as appendicitis) the pain worsens and becomes constant.
  8. Call Your Doctor If
    1. Pain is present > 2 hours
    2. Your child becomes worse or develops any of the "Call Your Doctor Now" symptoms