The Low-FODMAP Diet for Children

The low-FODMAP diet has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms for many people who have IBS. If your child is struggling with IBS or its close diagnostic relative, functional abdominal pain (FAP), you will want to be as informed as possible about the diet to assess whether the diet might be of help to your child.

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What Is the Low-FODMAP Diet?

The low-FODMAP diet is based on the theory that certain carbohydrates, collectively known as FODMAPs, exacerbate digestive symptoms in people who have IBS. FODMAPs stands for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides, and Polyols. FODMAPs are found in many common foods.

Research has shown that approximately 75% of people who have IBS experience a significant improvement in their digestive symptoms when they follow a diet low in FODMAPs.


  • The diet is designed to be followed strictly for a period of two to six weeks,
  • This is followed by a gradual reintroduction of the various types of FODMAPs. Reintroduction could take an additional 6 to 8 weeks.

It is highly recommended that the diet is undertaken under the supervision of a qualified dietary professional.

Research on the Diet in Children

Research on the diet for adults has not revealed any negative side effects for people following the diet for a short time. It is unknown if there would be a negative health effect if one were to follow the diet over a long period of time.

One of the major concerns regarding following the diet over the long term is the risk of nutrient deficiencies. There are also concerns as to whether the diet has a beneficial or harmful effect on the balance of the gut flora.

There is not adequate research regarding this diet's effects on children. While the diet has been used with some success for some children, evidence is limited. There are no current guidelines regarding how to implement the FODMAP diet for children. Healthcare providers recommend close medical supervision during this diet to avoid nutritional deficiencies.

Special Considerations for Children

If you are thinking of trying the low-FODMAP diet for your child, the following three factors must be in place:

  1. Your child must have a firm diagnosis of IBS or FAP.
  2. The diet must be approved of by your pediatrician.
  3. Your child's diet must be supervised by a qualified dietitian.

Diet Success Tips

Tell Key Adults

Be sure to inform teachers, childcare providers, camp counselors, and relevant friends about your child's dietary needs. Luckily, with the growing awareness of food allergies and celiac disease, people who work with children are much more accommodating to special dietary needs than they might have been in the past. You don't need to go into great detail—just inform them that your child is currently on a special diet to address their stomach issues.

Involve Your Child In the Process

Depending on your child's age, you can explain to them the theory behind the diet and how you think the diet may help them to feel better. Ask for their input regarding food substitutions and menu planning. Adherence to the diet is very much correlated with symptom improvement. Making your child feel like they are an integral part of the process will help to increase their ability to comply with the necessary dietary restrictions.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

In a very significant way, the low-FODMAP diet is significantly different from the dietary restrictions required for a child who has a food allergy or celiac disease—eating restricted food is not going to cause any health-threatening harm to your child. They may experience digestive symptoms in response to eating high-FODMAP food, but they will not be putting their health in jeopardy.

Therefore, you do not need to be excessively vigilant, and you can offer your child some freedom of choice as to what they decide to eat.

Pack Food Ahead of Time

We live in a fairly FODMAP-filled world. For example, wheat, garlic, onions, and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)—all of which are to be restricted on the low-FODMAP diet—are key ingredients in most of the foods of a typical Western diet. Therefore, you will find that home cooking and sending your child off with their own food will be necessary in order to ensure that they have something appropriate to eat.

Don't Skip the Reintroduction Process

Not everyone reacts to the same types of FODMAPs. Reintroducing foods with the various types of FODMAPs in a systematic way will help to identify which foods are particularly troublesome for your child. This process is best done under the guidance of a qualified dietary professional.

Gaining in-depth knowledge as to which foods your child can and cannot tolerate will help to ensure that they are eating as wide a variety of foods as they can without becoming symptomatic.

Don't Lose Sight of the Notion of FODMAP Load

One of the key aspects of the FODMAP theory is that it is not only the type of FODMAP that can cause symptoms, the number of FODMAPs consumed within a day can be problematic too. Therefore, you may find that your child can tolerate small amounts of a particular food or FODMAP, as long as the amount consumed is kept low. This factor helps to broaden the range of foods that can be eaten, helping to ensure that your child is getting their nutritional needs met.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Altobelli E, Del negro V, Angeletti PM, Latella G. Low-FODMAP Diet Improves Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms: A Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2017;9(9) doi:10.3390/nu9090940

  2. Staudacher HM, Irving PM, Lomer MC, Whelan K. Mechanisms and efficacy of dietary FODMAP restriction in IBS. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014;11(4):256-66. doi:10.1038/nrgastro.2013.259

  3. Thomassen RA, Luque V, Assa A, Borrelli O, Broekaert I, Dolinsek J, Martin-de-Carpi J, Mas E, Miele E, Norsa L, Ribes-Koninckx C, Saccomani MD, Thomson M, Tzivinikos C, Verduci E, Bronsky J, Haiden N, Köglmeier J, de Koning B, Benninga MA. An ESPGHAN position paper on the use of low-FODMAP diet in pediatric gastroenterology. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2022 Sep 1;75(3):356-368. doi:10.1097/MPG.0000000000003526

Additional Reading
  • Shepherd, S. & Gibson, P. "The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet" The Experiment 2013.

By Barbara Bolen, PhD
Barbara Bolen, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and health coach. She has written multiple books focused on living with irritable bowel syndrome.