Last weekend, my hubby and I took our Little Apple to Hobee’s, a wonderful chain of family-oriented restaurants here in northern California. She had not eaten much all day, so I expected her to go to town on her dinner. Before the food came out, however, she started clutching her tummy and whining to me, “Mommy, my stomach is so hungry.” I said, “Honey, just be patient. The food is coming out soon.”
Thinking it was just hunger pangs, I didn’t really pay much attention to it at first. I figured I would just distract her until the food arrived, so I handed her crayons and started drawing her “big fish.” But she kept intermittently complaining and crying, “Mommy, my stomach is so hungry!” So I finally picked her up and carried her outside to look at the gumball machines until the food came.
When the meal was ready, however, she didn’t want to eat. This was very surprising, since my little girl takes after her mother and is usually a great eater. Especially since it was fare that she loved: turkey sliders and smiley-face potato fries. I couldn’t get her to open her mouth, and every time I tried, she would just wail louder and louder, and clutch harder at her stomach.
Finally, I asked, “Sweetheart, does your stomach HURT?” She nodded, eyes big and reproachful. I reached over, felt her tummy, and found it to be hard as a rock and bloated. Uh oh, I thought, she must have gas and be unable to pass it, or she must be constipated. It got pretty bad, because she actually started crying inconsolably and asking to “go outside.” The hubby and I were pretty distraught. We took turns carrying her outside and shoveling our faces frantically so we could leave. Luckily, our server had a toddler of her own, so she was very sympathetic, bringing us all kinds of things to help the little Apple feel better. We grabbed some hot chamomile tea for the road, then high-tailed it home.
By the time we got home, the Apple’s cries had become ever more pitiful and urgent. “My stomach HUTS, Mommy, it HUTS!” (Yes, that is how she pronounces it). So I ransacked my essential oil cabinet, which has been running sadly low these days. But luckily, I found I still had Peppermint (which should be in EVERYONE’s medicine box, in my opinion), Fennel, and Dill (Dill is on my list of recommended essential oils for babies and young children). I mixed about 2 drops of each of the above in a tablespoon of olive oil, and poured the mixture on my palms, rubbed them together, then gave her a tummy massage.
An important word about tummy massages: always make sure that you are rubbing your child’s tummy (or any person’s) in a clockwise direction. This is because of the way the large intestine is shaped (see the diagram to the right). Waste material goes up the ascending colon, across the transverse colon, down the descending colon, and finally into the sigmoid and rectum/anus, then out the body. If you rub in a counter-clockwise direction, you’d be going against the natural shape of the colon, and you could really back your child’s plumbing up!
Well, I’m so thrilled to say that as soon as I was finished, she sat up and burped! And then 5 minutes later, she pooped! After that, she was her normal self again, giggling, running around, and playing happily with her toys. My husband, ever the skeptic, was astounded. “I can’t believe it worked that fast, honey! You are a genius.” Smugly, I paraded around the house.
The next night, at TGI Friday’s, she complained again of a tummy ache. This time, we weren’t so panicked because we knew what to do. We went home, laid her down, massaged her tummy with the same formula, and she pooped within 10 minutes again. We haven’t had a repeat of the incident since – thank goodness! Would love to hear what you other wise Mommies out there do to assuage your toddler’s stomach aches!