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Diarrhea in infants

Diarrhea - babies

Normal baby stools are soft and loose. Newborns have frequent stools, 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.

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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 young children under age 3 can become dehydrated quickly and get really 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 she 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 your baby solid foods when she 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:

References

American Academy of Pediatrics. Healthychildren.org website. Diarrhea. www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/abdominal/Pages/Diarrhea.aspx. Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed October 6, 2017.

Bhutta ZA. Acute gastroenteritis in children. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 340.

Ochoa TJ, Zambruni M, 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. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 44.

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Review Date: 9/8/2017  

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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