What is diarrhea?

Diarrhea can be caused by a virus or bacteria in your child's intestines. This makes your child's bowel movements (BMs) looser and come more often. Mild diarrhea is when your child has a few loose BMs. When the BMs are watery, the diarrhea is severe.

When your child has diarrhea, it is important to make sure your child does not lose too much water. If your child has these signs, he or she could be dehydrated:
  • Dry, sticky mouth.
  • No tears.
  • No urine in over 8 hours (over 12 hours if more than 1 year old).
  • Dark urine.

Taking care of the diarrhea can keep your child from losing too much water.

What is the cause?

Diarrhea is usually caused by a viral infection. Sometimes it is caused by bacteria or parasites. Sometimes a food allergy or drinking too much fruit juice may cause diarrhea. Antibiotics can upset the natural balance of bacteria in the digestive tract.

What should I feed my child?

Extra fluids and diet changes work best. Note: One loose bowel movement can mean nothing. Don't change your child's diet until your child has had several loose bowel movements.

Taking Care of Watery (Severe) Diarrhea

If your baby is less than 1 year old and bottle-fed:
  • Give him fluids more often than you would normally and as much as he wants. Fluids prevent dehydration.
  • Give your baby Pedialyte instead of formula for 4 to 6 hours.
  • After 4 to 6 hours, give your baby formula again. You may need soy formulas if the diarrhea is severe or doesn't improve in 3 days.
  • If your baby is over 4 months old, continue rice cereal, strained carrots, strained bananas, and mashed potatoes. Avoid all fruit juices, such as apple juice

If your baby is less than 1 year old and breast-fed:
  • Breast-feed more often.
  • If your baby is over 4 months old, continue rice cereal, strained carrots, strained bananas, and mashed potatoes.
  • Offer Pedialyte between feedings only if your baby does not urinate as often as usual or has dark-colored urine.

If your child is over 1 year old:
  • Give dried cereal, saltine crackers, yogurt, oatmeal, bread, noodles, mashed potatoes, carrots, applesauce, and strained bananas. Caution: If your child does not want to eat solid food, give your child milk or formula rather than water.
  • Give water or diluted Gatorade as the main fluids.
  • May try culturelle/ lactobacillus 1 gram granule packet: mix 1 packet in spoonful of applesauce twice daily. This will help restore your gut’s normal flora

Call your child's doctor right away if:
  • Your child has not urinated in 8 hours (12 hours for older children) or has a very dry mouth or no tears
  • There is blood in the diarrhea.
  • Your child has had more than 8 BMs in the last 8 hours.
  • The diarrhea is watery AND your child also throws up repeatedly.
  • Your child starts acting very sick.

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The information contained in this website is to provide information of a general nature about the
practice and pediatric medical conditions. Neither Dr. Leonhardt nor Bee Well Pediatrics, P.A. is engaged in rendering medical
advice or recommendations. You should always consult your doctor for advice.