Diarrhea is the most common gastrointestinal illness in infants and young children.
When trying to get your child back to normal knowing ‘what can I give my baby to stop diarrhea’ is a common question asked by most parents.
It can be very frustrating when your baby has diarrhea, especially if you are trying to get them back into their normal routine.
We have created a list of things that will help stop diarrhea in babies.
Our article includes remedies for milder cases as well as more serious cases of diarrhea.
You’ll find tips on what to avoid feeding your baby during an episode of diarrhea, how long this condition lasts and how it may affect your child’s growth and development in the future.
Babies and diarrhea
Diarrhea is a common and uncomfortable problem that can be hard to deal with. The main issue is the discomfort, but there are also serious health risks associated with diarrhea in babies.
Babies cannot tell you when they need help or if they have an urgent medical condition like dehydration or sepsis (a life-threatening complication of infection).
If your baby has diarrhea, it’s important to understand how it affects their body and what you should do about it.
When dealing with diarrhea in babies, one of the most important things to remember is that prevention is key. You want to stop the problem before it starts so that your child doesn’t become dehydrated and suffer from other complications as well.
It’s also vital for parents to know exactly what kind of diarrhea their child has so they can treat them accordingly without putting them at risk for any further complications due to incorrect treatment methods.
Diarrhea remedies for babies
Diarrhea is a symptom of some other underlying condition, and it can be caused by many different things including eating spoiled food or drinking contaminated water.
Diarrhea usually lasts for about three to five days. However, if your child’s diarrhea doesn’t get better within that time frame, you should bring them in to see the doctor.
If your child is experiencing diarrhea, it’s important that you treat them with an over-the-counter medication. If there are any complications or if the symptoms persist after a few days, you should see the doctor to determine what might be causing their symptoms and how they can help.
The following diarrhea remedies for babies will help alleviate some of the symptoms of this condition:
Give them plenty of fluids – You may think that this might make things worse, but it actually helps replace liquids lost from diarrhoea. Giving them an oral rehydration solution is best as it provides fluid along with electrolytes needed by a sick child. The best option for this would be Pedialyte. However, if your child doesn’t like the taste of Pedialyte, you can mix it with a clear fruit juice such as apple juice.
To soothe their stomach – Babies often become constipated when they have diarrhea. You should give them a mixture of one teaspoon of kaolin and pectin for every two to three ounces that your child weighs. Every four hours, you should gently rub this mixture on their cheeks and gums before giving them water or an oral rehydration solution. If it causes irritation, stop using it immediately.
For nausea – It’s best not to expose babies who are vomiting to smells that might cause nausea again. Keep things quiet, cool, and dimly lit around your baby until their symptoms subside. Also, you can give them an antihistamine to reduce vomiting.
How to avoid feeding your baby during an episode of diarrhea
The first step to getting a healthy gut is eliminating the bad bacteria that cause diarrhea. The best way to do this is by abstaining from feeding your baby during an episode of diarrhea, as it will only feed the infection and prolong the illness.
The second step in treating an infection is replacing lost fluids with water or electrolyte drinks like Gatorade. Offer your child small sips every few minutes, but don’t force them if they refuse or gag on liquids.
If you’re breastfeeding, continue breastfeeding without interruption for at least 24 hours after symptoms start improving so that your milk contains antibodies which can help fight off bacterial infections.
It’s also important to keep in mind that some babies are more sensitive than others and may be more prone to diarrhea. Avoid giving your child food that’s rich in fibre or any foods with chemicals or preservatives.
If you know your infant is sensitive to certain foods, check the ingredients of baby formula and nutritional supplements before administering them. If necessary, talk to a doctor about an alternative diet for babies who are prone to diarrhea and other digestive tract disorders.
What to do when your baby is running a fever and has diarrhea?
You should call your doctor or medical professional to determine if your child is experiencing any other symptoms. If they are, the fever and diarrhea will need to be treated as separate problems.
If your baby is running a fever and has diarrhea, it’s important to monitor their stool for signs of dehydration.
In severe cases, diarrhea can lead to life-threatening dehydration – so don’t hesitate to seek help if you feel concerned. Otherwise, there are some things you can do at home to help reduce your baby’s discomfort, including providing fluids and medication if necessary.
Here are some tips:
- Give the baby lots of fluids to keep them hydrated. As long as they are not vomiting, give them liquids every hour or two, such as water, juice or breast milk. Avoid giving cow’s milk-based formula if the diarrhea lasts for more than 24 hours because it can cause severe dehydration in infants.
- Treat fever with acetaminophen (Tylenol). Never use aspirin—it increases the risk of Reye syndrome in children under 18 months old.
- Offer small amounts of food every 2-3 hours only if she isn’t vomiting or having blood in stools, and make sure it doesn’t contain any sugar, dairy or caffeine.
Please Note: If the diarrhea lasts more than a day or if your baby is younger than 6 months old or has a fever, call the doctor.
How long will my baby have diarrhea?
Diarrhea is a common problem for babies and children. It can happen as a result of an illness, such as gastroenteritis or colic, or it may be related to food sensitivity.
The most important thing you can do is make sure your baby remains hydrated and if the diarrhea persists (about 3-4 days) then they should see their doctor who will assess whether there may be an underlying cause that needs treatment.
Typically babies have diarrhea for between 24-72 hours.
Breastfed babies are usually breastfed more frequently than bottle fed babies, so the frequency of stools is often higher in younger babies who are exclusively breastfed.
Breastfeeding can also be helpful for treating diarrhea as it maintains hydration and provides important nutrients that will help your baby recover faster.
Bottle fed babies tend to have fewer bowel movements, but they should still be offered their normal amounts of formula during this time (unless advised otherwise by a doctor).
It’s also very important that they continue to be offered adequate hydration – no matter how much or little they seem to drink – you can’t force them to drink more than they want or need.
If your baby seems lethargic, sleepy or just seems ‘off’ in any way, they should be taken to their doctor.
Check your baby’s diaper frequently
Keep an eye on your baby’s diapers – if there is less than 4 wet diapers in 24 hours or the colour of the urine becomes dark yellow, this may indicate dehydration and your baby should see a doctor immediately for re-hydration with either oral fluids (water, breastmilk or formula) OR via intravenous fluids at hospital.
Most cases of diarrhea are mild and resolve within 2-3 days without any specific treatment being needed. If your child appears well throughout the illness then it is not necessary to give medications unless specifically advised by a medical practitioner.
After 3 days of persistent diarrhea or if your child has signs of dehydration you should go to your doctor for assessment and treatment.
Take necessary precautions
As with any illness, stay at home if your child is obviously unwell. And remember that children can spread germs to others (especially those babies too young to wash their hands).
Prevention is the best advice – be diligent about handwashing and make sure everyone who goes near your baby has been well washed.
If you are breastfeeding, make sure you put good hygiene practices in place to prevent infection of your nipples or breasts (see Breastfeeding & Diarrhea ), including making sure all surfaces are clean before feeding begins.
Wash your hands after changing diapers, before handling food, when you return from outside or when they have contact with anyone sick.
Staying home when ill will not harm breastfed babies who have diarrhea. While bottle fed babies may have a lower intake of fluids during an illness, this is often compensated for by breastmilk as the mother’s production increases due to the stress of her baby being ill.
So, as long as your baby remains hydrated then they do not need to have extra formula until they have been well for 24 hours.
Some parents feel more comfortable giving their babies some extra milk if it seems like they are not drinking enough – you can try giving them a little more milk (just a few ml) but do remember that fruit juices and other liquids without added nutrients don’t provide any additional energy or nutrition – so make sure you avoid offering these unless advised by your doctor
Some older children/babies with chronic diarrhea may start to lose weight. This is because they are not able to keep down sufficient amounts of food in their stomachs. If this happens, the doctor will probably recommend giving ORS (oral re-hydration solution) or homemade Pedialyte, even if they are still breastfeeding/taking formula.
Can diarrhea affect my child’s growth and development?
A lot of parents worry about their children’s growth and development when they have diarrhea.
It is important to remember that dehydration can also be a major concern with any illness, so it is essential for your child to take in enough fluids (breastmilk or formula) during this time. This will ensure that they are able to stay hydrated while re-hydrating at the same time.
The World Health Organization recommend continuing breastfeeding even if your child has persistent diarrhea – as long as you maintain good hygiene practices then there should be no negative effects on either mother or baby.
Breastfeeding babies who have diarrhea tend not to drink much breast milk, but mothers usually produce more due to stress hormones released by her body during an illness.
Although diarrhea is not a common cause of stunting, it can contribute if the child becomes dehydrated or malnourished due to ongoing diarrhea and inadequate food intake.
In general children with ongoing weight loss from persistent diarrhea do need extra nutrients from other sources such as formula or ORS (to be discussed in more detail below) until their weight catch up.
If you have ongoing concerns about your baby’s growth and development, don’t hesitate to speak to a doctor about this. Or speak to a dietitian for advice on how best to feed your baby during illness.
Diarrhea, which is defined as having three or more watery bowel movements per day for two or more days in a row, can be extremely hard on babies and children.
When it lasts longer than two days, diarrhea usually means that the child has an infection of some kind (most likely viral).
If your baby is less than six months old and they have diarrhea for more than 2-3 days then you should see your doctor; if they are over 6 months old then you should go to the hospital.
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