What you Should Know about Diarrhea in Infants
As a parent, you have probably seen your babies struggle with severe diarrhea. Depending on what your baby eats or ingests, such as breast milk, formula or solid food, you may notice many different textures, colors and odors in your baby’s stool. Occasionally, it is normal for a baby to have diarrhea. However, too much diarrhea can cause the baby to lose too much water.
Here you’ll learn how to deal with your baby in case of diarrhea and when to see a doctor.
Causes of Diarrhea
There are a lot of things that can cause diarrhea, including:
- Breastmilk or formulated milk: Stomach bug, changes in the baby’s diet, milk allergies or intolerance
- Food allergies or sensitivity to medicines
- Infection with a virus, bacteria, or parasite through contact with unclean food or water
Effects of Diarrhea
Having Diarrhea will affect the body especially if it loses too much water and minerals which may lead to dehydration. Babies can get dehydrated easily within a day or two after diarrhea starts. Dehydration is especially a risk if your baby has diarrhea and is vomiting or has a fever at the same time and can be very dangerous, especially babies and newborns.
Reach out to your doctor immediately if your baby has any signs or symptoms of dehydration from diarrhea. These include:
- Dry skin
- Dry mouth
- High-grade fever
- Blood or pus in the stool
- Refuse to eat
- Crying without shedding tears
- Weak cry
- Sunken eyes
- Acting fussy or irritable
- Dry diapers for 8-12 hours
Treatment at home
You may not have the power to stop or prevent your baby’s diarrhea, but you can help make your little one more comfortable. You can also prevent dehydration and other complications at home. In most cases, baby diarrhea gets better on its own and your baby won’t need medical treatment.
Here’s what you can do at home:
- Keep them hydrated by breastfeeding or formula-feeding your babies.
- Ask your pediatrician about electrolyte drinks for babies. These can help to replace lost fluids and salts when babies have diarrhea.
Note: In normal cases of diarrhea, breast milk or formula is enough.
- Change your baby’s diaper often. Try to keep them as dry as possible to help prevent a diaper rash
If your little one is eating solid foods, give them bits of foods that may help to soothe diarrhea. These include:
Avoid the following foods that can make diarrhea worse:
- Cow’s milk, other than the dairy in their formula (you should be avoiding cow’s milk until your child is 1 year old anyway)
- Fruit juices (you should be avoiding these until your child is 2 years old anyway)
- Fried foods
- Spicy foods
- Sports drinks that are made for adults
- Antidiarrheal medication, unless your pediatrician tells you to give it
Diarrhea caused by a viral or bacterial infection is very contagious. Wash your hands with warm water and soap every time you change your baby’s diaper to prevent spreading the infection. Keep the diaper changing area clean and disinfect it. Leave your baby in the nursery until he or she is fully recovered.