Is there any reason to worry about a child's potbelly?
It is generally normal for toddlers to have potbellies. By the time children reach school age, the potbelly will most often disappear and their bodies seem more proportionate.
The belly should feel soft and NOT tender. There is nothing to worry about unless the child also has other symptoms such as:
- Belly pain
- Hard or firm-feeling belly
- Short stature
- Swollen belly
Children and potbellies
Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Steward RW. Abdomen. In: Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW, eds. Siedel's Guide to Physical Examination. 9th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2019:chap 18.
Turay F, Rudolph JA. Nutrition and gastroenterology. In: Zitelli BJ, McIntire SC, Nowalk AJ, eds. Zitelli and Davis' Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 11.
Review Date 2/2/2021
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.