Infant diarrhea

Infant diarrhea

One of the most common symptoms of tummy troubles is diarrhea – watery stools that are different in appearance and frequency than those your baby has had before. (This is an important detail, since many young infants, especially breastfed babies, normally have thin or watery stools.)

Most infectious diarrheas are caused by viruses that tend to be more common in the summer but can come along anytime. These infections usually last several days, but you just have to give it time.

Keep your baby hydrated
The key is to give your baby plenty of fluids, even if he doesn't have much of an appetite or seem very thirsty. Continue to feed him if his diarrhea is mild. Give him small portions of bland foods that contain the fiber pectin throughout the day. Try applesauce, rice, bananas, and mashed potatoes. If you're formula feeding, add an extra ounce or two of water to the mix, diluting the formula slightly. Avoid teas, which don't have the necessary salts, as well as fruit juices – they can actually increase fluid loss because of their high salt content. If your baby's stools are particularly frequent and watery(hourly, for example, and soaking through the diaper), you may need to give him one to two ounces of a commercial electrolyte solution every hour or two for a day before going back to his regular feeding pattern.

Call for assistance

If his diarrhea isn't getting better, check in with his healthcare provider. Giving your baby any diarrhea medicine without very explicit directions from an experienced healthcare provider can be dangerous. These treatments can cause serious bowel stoppage and sedation.

FYI: Diarrhea almost always creates skin irritation in the diaper area. Change your baby frequently and apply petroleum jelly to the area – or use a diaper with petroleum embedded in the lining – to protect his skin from the burning properties of fast-running stools.

When to call
It's hard to know when to contact the healthcare provider, but if your child is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, call his provider immediately:

  • A dry mouth, lack of tears, dark urine, or acting very sick
  • Stool containing pus or blood, or that is black or persistently green
  • Vomiting that accompanies diarrhea, lasting for more than eight hours
  • High fever or serious abdominal pain that accompanies diarrhea.

Minor stomach complaints are typical among young children. It's important you understand how to manage them at home to avoid emergency room visits, hospitalizations and prolonged discomfort. Your little one will soon feel better!