Diarrhea - babies
Normal baby stools are soft and loose. Newborns have stools often, sometimes with every feeding. For these reasons, you may have trouble knowing when your baby has diarrhea.
Your baby may have diarrhea if you see changes in the stool, such as more stools all of a sudden; possibly more than one stool per feeding or really watery stools.
Causes of Diarrhea
Diarrhea in babies usually does not last long. Most often, it is caused by a virus and goes away on its own. Your baby could also have diarrhea with:
Diarrhea Causes Dehydration
Infants and children under age 3 can become dehydrated quickly and get very sick. Dehydration means that your baby does not have enough water or liquids. Watch your baby closely for signs of dehydration, which include:
Taking Care of Your Baby
Make sure your baby gets plenty of liquids so your baby does not get dehydrated.
If your baby still seems thirsty after or between feedings, talk to your provider about giving your baby Pedialyte or Infalyte. Your provider may recommend these extra liquids that contain electrolytes.
If your baby throws up, give them only a little bit of liquid at a time. Start with as little as 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of liquid every 10 to 15 minutes. Do not give solid foods when your baby is vomiting.
Do not give your baby ant-diarrhea medicine unless your provider says it is OK.
Feeding Your Baby
If your baby was on solid foods before the diarrhea began, start with foods that are easy on the stomach, such as:
Do not give your baby food that makes diarrhea worse, such as:
Preventing Diaper Rash
Your baby might get diaper rash because of the diarrhea. To prevent diaper rash:
Wash your hands well to keep you and other people in your household from getting sick. Diarrhea caused by germs can spread easily.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your provider if your baby is a newborn (under 3 months old) and has diarrhea.
Also call if your child has signs of being dehydrated, including:
Know the signs that your baby is not getting better, including:
Kotloff KL. Acute gastroenteritis in children. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 366.
Ochoa TJ, Chea-Woo E. Approach to patients with gastrointestinal tract infections and food poisoning. In: Cherry JD, Harrison GJ, Kaplan SL, Steinbach WJ, Hotez PJ, eds. Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2019:chap 44.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 8/10/2021
Reviewed 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.
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