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Recognise the signs of indigestion

Recognising the Signs and Causes of Indigestion in Children

Indigestion happens to the best of us, and even more so to sensitive young tummies. While most of us are familiar with the symptoms of indigestion, it is not always apparent when it is happening to young children. Hence, it is important to recognise the signs and causes of indigestion in children, and make sure it does not happen to yours.

Why do children get indigestion?

Indigestion (also known as dyspepsia) in children is a discomfort in the upper belly that often occurs after eating.1 It can appear with symptoms like bloating, burning, burping, and nausea.1 Fortunately, indigestion is a common issue that affects children of all ages, similar to adults, and it typically is not a cause for major concern. 

In some cases, heartburn, also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), can sometimes occur alongside indigestion.2 This happens when stomach acid splashes back up into the gullet (oesophagus) causing a sour or bitter taste in the mouth or an uncomfortable feeling in the chest, nausea, upper abdominal pain, or even vomiting. 

Recognising the signs and causes behind a child's indigestion is important. By understanding what triggers their discomfort, you can take steps to improve their comfort and wellbeing. This might involve making simple dietary changes or addressing underlying issues like eating too quickly or certain food sensitivities.

What are the signs of indigestion in children? 

While indigestion in children can be uncomfortable, the good news is there are often telltale signs to watch for to prevent them from worsening. Especially for young children who may not be able to verbalise their discomfort, it's crucial for parents to watch for these signs of indigestion2,3,4,5:

  • Pain or burning in the upper belly (stomach pain)
  • Nausea
  • Bloating and stomach feels stretched
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lots of burping or flatulence
  • Heartburn

It's important to remember that occasional indigestion is normal. However, if your child's symptoms are severe, persistent, or accompanied by things like vomiting blood, weight loss, or intense stomach pain, it's important to consult a doctor to rule out any underlying issues.

What are the causes of indigestion in children? 

While dietary factors are common culprits, indigestion in children can also stem from digestive issues, medication side effects, and even anxiety. Here's a closer look at the potential causes:

Dietary Factors

  • Overeating and eating too quickly: Mealtimes can be a delightful adventure for young children as they discover new tastes and textures. However, their excitement can sometimes lead to overeating or gulping down their food too fast.4,5 This can overwhelm their developing digestive systems, causing them to produce too much stomach acid.
  • Overly rich, fibrous or acidic foods: Fatty, spicy, and sugary foods are well-known triggers.4 However, even healthy options like high-fibre vegetables and fruits can cause bloating and cramps if consumed in excess. Acidic fruits like citrus or tomatoes can also trigger extra stomach acid.4
  • Eating too close to bedtime: A rushed schedule might lead to dinner too close to bedtime. Lying down with a full stomach allows stomach acids to move up the oesophagus, causing indigestion and heartburn.4

Digestive Issues

  • Constipation: Difficulty passing stools can contribute to indigestion as food sits for longer in the digestive system.6
  • Food allergies or sensitivities: Certain foods can irritate the digestive system especially in younger children, leading to indigestion symptoms.5,6

Other Factors

  • Anxiety: Stress and anxiety can manifest as stomach upset in children.5
  • Medication side effects: Some medications, like painkillers and antihistamines, can irritate the stomach lining and increase acid production, even at recommended doses.4,5
  • Swallowing air: Chewing gum, sucking on sweets, or talking while eating can lead to swallowing air, which can cause bloating and discomfort.5,6
  • Childhood obesity: Excess weight can put pressure on the stomach, hindering digestion and potentially leading to acid reflux.4 However, if your child experiences severe chest pain or persistent upset stomach, consult a doctor immediately. 

What are some tips for managing indigestion-induced discomfort at home? 

While indigestion can be challenging to deal with, especially with younger children who don’t know how to vocalise their discomfort, there are ways to ease your child's discomfort at home. Here are some tips for mild cases:

  • Ginger tea or chamomile tea (for older children): Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe the stomach and alleviate nausea.7,8 Beyond its calming and sleep-promoting properties, chamomile tea might also be helpful for your child's tummy troubles. This gentle herb can ease indigestion discomfort by potentially reducing stomach acid levels in the gut. Chamomile also has natural anti-inflammatory properties that might help soothe any pain associated with indigestion.7,8 Do ensure that the tea is lukewarm before offering it to your child.
  • Warm bath (for younger children): A warm bath can be a relaxing way to ease discomfort.9
  • Loosen clothing: Tight clothing around the belly can put extra pressure on the stomach. Loosen tight waistbands or change your child into looser clothing to allow for easier digestion.4,5
  • Tummy rubs: Gently massage your child's stomach in a clockwise motion to aid digestion. You can also try a warm compress or heating pad on their tummy (with supervision to avoid burns).4

If your child's indigestion is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting blood or weight loss, consult a doctor to rule out any underlying issues.

How can you prevent indigestion? 

Indigestion might be a common issue, but there are ways to help your child avoid discomfort! Here are some preventative measures you can take:

Healthy Eating Habits

  • Smaller Meals, More Often: Ditch the "three big meals" routine. Opt for smaller portions spread out throughout the day. This reduces the workload on their little tummies and allows for smoother digestion.
  • Balanced Diet is Key: Ensure your child's diet incorporates a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These provide essential nutrients and fibre, promoting healthy digestion.
  • Limit Processed Foods: Processed foods are often loaded with unhealthy fats, sugars, and artificial ingredients that can irritate the digestive system. Opt for fresh, whole foods whenever possible. 

Identifying and Avoiding Triggers

  • Keep a Food Diary: Work with your child to track their meals and any subsequent indigestion episodes. This can help identify specific foods or drinks that might be triggering their discomfort. Common culprits include fatty foods (french fries, burgers), spicy foods, sugary drinks, and acidic fruits (citrus). Once you identify triggers, limit or avoid them in their diet.

Managing Stress and Anxiety

  • Create a Relaxing Mealtime: Make mealtimes a calm and enjoyable experience. Avoid distractions like television or electronic devices during meals. Encourage them to chew their food thoroughly and eat at a moderate pace.
  • Address Underlying Anxieties: If you suspect your child's indigestion is linked to stress or anxiety, talk to them and address any underlying worries. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises or gentle yoga stretches can also be helpful.

Bonus Tips

  • Hydration is Key: Encourage your child to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Proper hydration aids digestion and helps prevent constipation, which can contribute to indigestion. Check out our article for more insights on what causes constipation in children and how to treat it.
  • Chew, Chew, Chew: Remind your child to chew their food thoroughly before swallowing. This allows the digestive process to begin in the mouth, making stomach work smoother.
  • Post-Meal Activity: While strenuous activity right after eating is not ideal, encourage some light movement after meals. A short walk or gentle playtime can aid digestion.

Improving your child's digestive system will help in the long run. Check out this article for more ideas on how to improve your child's digestive system naturally!

How does Friso® Gold contribute to better digestion? 

Tiny tummies are extremely gentle and sensitive. Indigestion happens when they are not able to break down the nutrients that they ingest, thus giving them pain or discomfort. That is why your child’s tummy requires nutrients that are close to its natural structure for easy digestion.

Overheating during milk processing damages the natural structure of milk protein, which can lead to indigestion. That is why Friso® Gold’s LocNutri® Technology uses mild heat treatment during production to preserve the nutrient close to its natural structure, so it is easy to digest. Now upgraded with 2’-FL to support your child’s natural body defence by encouraging the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract.

The effects of natural and damaged nutrient on your child's stomach


Natural nutrient
Milk protein in its natural structure is easy for a child’s still-developing digestive tract to digest


Damaged nutrient
Milk protein that has been damaged is not easy for a child’s still-developing digestive tract to digest

Find out more about LocNutri® and how it contributes to better digestion

Introducing Friso® Gold Formula Milk/Susu 

Try Friso® Gold Step 3 and Friso® Gold Step 4. Made with milk and processed only once with LocNutri™ Technology to preserve more than 90% of nutrients, Friso® Gold combines the magical goodness of nature with science to bring you easy to digest milk with more than 50 essential nutrients to help your child grow stronger from the inside.​

Friso® Gold contains NOVAS™ Signature Milk, that has naturally small molecules and a soft structure, and is free from added flavours for easy digestion. Additionally, it now contains 2’-FL to support your child’s natural body defences. Curious to know the basics of formula milk ingredients?

DHA, AA, Omega 3 & 6 - To fuel learning growth. DHA is important for optimal visual and cognitive development10. AA is recognised for its key role for optimal health, cognition and development during foetal and early postnatal life11. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are important for normal development of the brain, nervous system, sensory organs and intelligence12.

Calcium, Protein, Vitamin & Minerals - Muscle and bone growth. Calcium helps in the normal growth and development of bones and teeth. Protein is essential for your child’s growth, maintenance and repair for the body13. Vitamins and minerals are vital for growth and metabolism14.

2'-FL, GOS, Nucleotides & Bifido Lactis - Helps absorb key nutrients & build strong immune systems. GOS are prebiotics that can help with constipation and more15. Nucleotides can promote healthy gastrointestinal and immunological growth in young children16. Bifido Lactis is important for diarrhoea prevention as well as immune and gut maturation17. 2'-FL, also known as 2′-fucosyllactose, acts as a prebiotic, selectively nourishing the beneficial bacteria in a child's developing gut microbiome.18,19 This targeted nourishment is essential for supporting the proper maturation of a child's immune system and digestive system during their early years.20,21,22,23

Curious to know the basics of formula milk ingredients? Check out our guide on what to look for in formulated milk powder for children, the various ingredients, what to avoid and key considerations to keep in mind when choosing formula milk for your child right  here!

Ensuring your child has good digestion is crucial not just for their immediate comfort but to also prepare them for a healthier, happier future. Keen on trying it out? You may request a sample: Try a free 1-day trial pack or 50% off for 6 days-trial pack.


  14. Singh, Harinder & Marjina, & Singh, Amandeep & Sharma, Deepak & Singh, Gurmeet. (2020). Role of Mineral and Vitamin for Children and Pregnant Women. 19. 107-115.
  15. Fanaro S, Boehm G, Garssen J, Knol J, Mosca F, Stahl B, Vigi V. Galacto-oligosaccharides and long-chain fructo-oligosaccharides as prebiotics in milk formulas: a review. Acta Paediatr Suppl. 2005 Oct;94(449):22-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2005.tb02150.x. PMID: 16214761. 

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