Keeping Your Child Hydrated
Rehydration is really important during a diarrhea spell to prevent your child from getting dehydrated. If your baby is younger than 6 months old, keep her hydrated with breast milk or formula as water is not recommended for babies in the first six months. For babies and toddlers over 6 months old, you can keep giving the same liquids you would normally, like water, breast milk, or formula.
Your baby or toddler’s healthcare provider may recommend you use a store-bought electrolyte solution to help keep your little one properly hydrated, and may offer specific instructions on how to do this. Here are some general guidelines on giving your child an electrolyte solution:
For breastfed babies, you can continue to nurse as usual, as well as giving the electrolyte solution, unless your provider recommends just breastfeeding
For formula-fed babies, you should stop offering formula and give only the electrolyte solution until the diarrhea and/or vomiting has stopped. Then you can go back to formula-feeding
For older babies and toddlers who are eating solid foods, reintroduce your child’s normal diet only once the diarrhea and/or vomiting have stopped. Until then give the electrolyte solution exclusively until the diarrhea has decreased. After 12 to 24 hours of giving the electrolyte solution, you can also offer certain bland and easily digestible foods including crackers, toast, rice, chicken, applesauce, pears, bananas, and gelatin.
Check For Bloody Stool
Ensure that there is no blood in the stool. This seems obvious for children still in diapers, but make sure to check the stool of those who are potty-trained, as they may not mention this to you. If you do find blood in the stool, see your childs doctor right away.
Sometimes blood in the stool can be microscopic, so your childs pediatrician may ask for a stool sample to test for blood if there is any concern.
In addition, talk to your doctor if your child has diarrhea along with weight loss or poor weight gain, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, or stools that are greasy or oily.
Nutrition Tips For Managing Diarrhea In Toddlers:
1. Keep them hydrated.
The best sources of hydration are plain water and an electrolyte solution. We dont recommend sugary beverages like fruit juice for kids in general, and especially not during bouts of diarrhea.
Oral rehydration therapy, or Pedialyte, is usually recommended following bouts of vomiting and diarrhea to replenish essential minerals. While pediatric drinks for this purpose are getting better as far as ingredients, its actually easy to make your own at home!
This DIY version is from the UNICEF guidelines on rehydration and is an inexpensive option over brand name drinks. It also contains the essentials electrolytes sodium and chloride. We dont normally encourage sugary drinks, but the sugar here is essential as glucose accelerates the absorption of both the water and salt. Since this is meant to be used on occasion and not as a daily drink, we dont sweat the regular sugar called for in this recipe.
Homemade Pedialyte Recipe
Mix together 5 cups water, 6 level teaspoons sugar, and 1/2 level teaspoon salt, until solids are dissolved. Its better to have this be diluted than too concentrated, as excess sugar can make diarrhea worse.
Children under 2 need ~1/2 cup after each bout of diarrhea or vomiting and children over age 2 need ~ 1 cup of this drink after. For super sick babes, you can feed them via spoon or syringe.
2. Increase the amount of fat in your childs diet
Healthy fats that may help alleviate diarrhea include:
4. Be gentle and have patience
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What Is The Treatment
Your childs doctor will talk with you about specific care for your child. Some general guidelines to follow include:
Extra fluids Offer your child extra fluids with each loose or liquid stool. Diarrhea can make children very thirsty.
- Give babies less than 8 months old Pedialyte it is important to remember that babies do not have the same reserve as older children so they should be evaluated for diarrhea within 48 hours of beginning of symptoms children less than 8 months of age should not be given extra fluids without talking to the doctor first.
- Give babies over 8 months old half-strength Gatorade to drink if they will not take the Pedialyte or
- Give your child sports drinks, Popsicles, water and soft drinks only if he is taking solid foods
- Do not give diet drinks or fruit juices
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How Do I Know If My Child Has Toddlers Diarrhea
Make an appointment to see your pediatrician if your child has frequent loose stools lasting more than a couple of weeks. Before the appointment, consider keeping a written log of your childs stool patterns for at least one week. Each day, write down the frequency and consistency of your childs bowel movements as well as a diary of the types of foods and drinks he or she consumes. This will help your doctor make the diagnosis of toddlers diarrhea or decide if further evaluation is needed to look for other causes of diarrhea. Remember, if the diagnosis of toddlers diarrhea is made after consulting with your pediatrician, this is not considered a disease, but rather a harmless condition of childhood. The vast majority of children outgrow toddlers diarrhea with time and/or by following dietary interventions.
If a child has blood in the stool, vomiting, poor weight gain or weight loss, abdominal pain, refusal to eat/drink, or fever, call your doctor to discuss being seen sooner. These red flag symptoms indicate that something more serious than toddlers diarrhea is going on and further evaluation and/or treatment may be needed.
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When To See A Doctor
If your toddler has diarrhea, dont spare a moment to call the doctor for counsel. Diarrhea is particularly risky in babies and newborns, leading to dehydration in only a day or two.
A toddler can pass on from dehydration within a couple of days. Rehydration is the standard treatment for diarrhea in kids, it works by replacing lost liquid rapidly.
Now you known the foods to give toddlers with diarrhea. Like this article? I would be happy if you share or pin it for some other time. You can also stay in touch and follow us on , or .
DISCLAIMER The information on this post is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for advice from a medical professional or health care provider.
Easter JS. Pediatric gastrointestinal disorders and dehydration. In: Markovchick VJ, Pons PT, Bakes KM, Buchanan JA, eds. Emergency Medicine Secrets. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier 2016:chap 64.
Kotloff KL. Acute gastroenteritis in children. In: Kliegman RM, St Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier 2020:chap 366.
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When Your Toddler Should Be Seen By A Pediatrician For Diarrhea
If you’ve tried all the methods described above and they’re not working, if your child has any other unusual symptoms , or if their diarrhea has been going on for some time, then you should see your child’s pediatrician. They may choose to order stool cultures to check for parasites and bacterial infections. If the cause is a bacterial infection, for instance, the doctor might be able to prescribe an antibiotic drug that can help get rid of the infection .
If your child is very fussy, has greasy stools that are very foul-smelling, or if they are not gaining weight appropriately, then your pediatrician might be more aggressive in looking for a medical cause for your child’s loose stools.
It is important to work on solving this problem, not only so your child feels better , but also because loose stools are bound to make it much more difficult to get them potty trained.
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Fluids To Treat Dehydration
If your child is mildly dehydrated, this may be treated by giving them rehydration drinks. Read the instructions carefully for advice about how to make up the drinks and about how much to give. The amount can depend on the age and the weight of your child. If rehydration drinks are not available for whatever reason, make sure you keep giving your child water, diluted fruit juice or some other suitable liquid. If you are breastfeeding, you should continue with this during this time. It is important that your child is rehydrated before they have any solid food.
Sometimes a child may need to be admitted to hospital for treatment if they are dehydrated. Treatment in hospital usually involves giving rehydration solution via a special tube called a nasogastric tube. This tube passes through your childs nose, down their throat and directly into their stomach. An alternative treatment is with fluids given directly into a vein .
How Much Fluids To Give A Vomiting Child
The biggest mistake that parents make when their kids have diarrhea and vomiting, next to giving the wrong fluids, is being too aggressive and giving their children too much to drink at one time.
If your child is vomiting frequently, limit fluids to a teaspoon at a time, using a syringe, medicine dropper, or actual teaspoon to measure the dose. Gradually increase the amount you give at each time as your child begins to keep it down.
A good starting point is a teaspoon or tablespoon of fluid every five or ten minutes for the first hour or two, increasing to a few tablespoons at a time once the vomiting decreases and your child is keeping the fluids down well.
If your child cant or wont drink anything else, a Pedialyte popsicle can be a good alternative to prevent dehydration.
The total amount of fluids you should aim to give depends on how dehydrated your child is.
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The Best Foods For Diarrhea
The best foods for helping your child overcome diarrhea are those that are easy to digest, keep your child eating, and offer nutrition. Foods containing a bit of extra salt can help replenish the electrolytes sodium and chloride lost in stool.
- Salty fluids . Broths, sports drinks, and oral rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte.
- Low fiber foods. Rice, noodles or pasta, cream of wheat, small amounts of peanut butter, white bread, cottage cheese, canned fruits in their natural juices, cooked vegetables like carrots or green beans, pretzels, crackers, and baked or broiled lean meats such as chicken, turkey, or lean beef.
- Other foods. Banana, applesauce, pancakes, waffles, cornbread, popsicles, and low fat dairy products .
Do Antibiotics Cause Diarrhea
Antibiotics cause diarrhea in a few ways, says Dr. Finlay-Morreale. Amoxicillin-clavulanate causes diarrhea in many people due to the clavanate portion. Others are thought to disrupt the gut flora and cause diarrhea. Finally, a certain bacteria, c. difficile, can overgrow following antibiotic use and cause severe diarrhea.
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What Can I Do For My Child’s Diarrhea
Let ’em poop. First, remember that diarrhea is the body’s natural way to get rid of germs in the intestine. Therefore, letting viral diarrhea run its course is a good plan. Even for many bacterial causes of diarrhea , the best course of action is to let it run its course. The stools may be profuse, even explosive, but they will get better with time.
Let ’em eat, if they want. Unless your child has an excess of sweets in the diet, no special modification of his diet is necessary. Sometimes children have belly cramps with diarrhea, and so their appetites aren’t great. That’s okay — they’ll get their appetites back within a week or so. Many physicians used to advocate cutting out all dairy products and certain solid foods. New evidence suggests that this is not necessary: it doesn’t make a difference in how fast the child gets better, and it makes the child hungry
Lots of fluids. Encourage lots of fluids to help keep your child hydrated. Your child can have water, milk, weak juice, popsicles, weak Kool-Aid, lemonade, or whatever sounds good. Again, avoid very sweet drinks as they can make diarrhea worse. Also, avoid caffeinated drinks as much as possible.
Don’t use Imodium to stop stools in children under 12. With certain kinds of diarrhea, Imodium can rarely cause dangerous side effects.
Don’t use Pepto-Bismol. Pepto-Bismol contains salicylates . Like other aspirin containing products, it should not be used in children unless directed by a doctor.
How Can Parents Help
For kids who show signs of mild dehydration, doctors recommend giving oral rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte, Enfalyte, or a store brand. It has the right amount of water, sugar, and salt to help with dehydration. These are available in most grocery stores and drugstores without a prescription. Your doctor will tell you what kind to give, how much, and for how long.
Dont give kids with diarrhea sports drinks, soda, or full-strength juice. They have too much sugar and can make some symptoms worse. Also, dont give water alone.
In some cases, kids with severe diarrhea may need to get IV fluids at the hospital treat dehydration.
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When To Seek Immediate Medical Attention For Treatment
It’s a good idea to contact the healthcare provider whenever your child has diarrhea, even if it’s mild. But in certain circumstances, it’s especially important to notify the provider promptly or even immediately.
If you notice your child has any of the following types of diarrhea, notify your provider, as your child may need to be evaluated and tested as soon as possible:
Green or yellow loose stools, which indicate that the diarrhea is caused by a virus
Black or red loose stools, which contain blood. This may be due to bleeding in the intestines caused by injury or irritation
Any unusual color of loose stool not listed here.
It’s worth noting that a newborn or an infant often has varying colors of poop, including a yellowy poop, and these are typically not signs of diarrhea. If you’re ever unsure, check with your baby’s healthcare provider.
Sometimes, your child may have additional symptoms. If this is this case, it may be a sign of a more serious medical condition that only your child’s healthcare provider can diagnose. If you notice any of the following in your child along with diarrhea, notify the healthcare provider immediately:
A fever that lasts for more than 24 hours
Vomiting that lasts for more than 12 hours
Vomit that looks green, bloody, or like coffee grounds
A distended abdomen
Blood in the stools
Your child refuses to eat or drink.
How Is Diarrhoea In Babies And Children Treated
The treatment of diarrhoea in babies and children will depend on the underlying cause.
Antibiotic-associated diarrhoea: The doctor may advise you to stop or change the antibiotic.
Coeliac disease or lactose intolerance: These conditions can be treated with dietary adjustments.
Constipation: If ongoing constipation is causing faecal incontinence in your child, this will need to be managed by a doctor or a paediatrician.
Cryptosporidiosis: There is usually no specific treatment for this condition and it generally clears up by itself.
Dehydration: Your child may need to go to hospital for rehydration via a nasogastric tube, which goes down their nose into their stomach, or intravenously via a drip.
Gastroenteritis: Treatment will focus on keeping your child hydrated and replacing any lost minerals and salts. You can do this with an oral rehydration solution, which you can buy from the pharmacy. Gastroenteritis will usually clear up without specific treatment.
Giardia: This can be treated with specific antibiotics.
Inflammatory bowel disease : Your child will need to see a specialist and will need medicines and specialised formula.
Malabsorption: Treatment will depend on the underlying cause and may involve replacing missing nutrients.
Anti-diarrhoeal medicines are not suitable for use in children.
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What Should You Feed A Child Who Has Diarrhea
If your child has diarrhea, it’s important to feed them a healthy, well-balanced diet in addition to plenty of fluids. In the past, doctors suggested the “BRAT diet as a solution to help children with diarrhea. Now, many doctors don’t recommend it.
“The BRAT diet is restrictive and does not necessarily help stop diarrhea, explains Dr. Lazar. “Instead, we recommend that children continue to eat a nutritious, well-rounded diet, as there is evidence that the intestine heals when the child is fed.
For breastfed babies and children, breast milk continues to be a great option for nutrition through diarrhea. “Breast milk is easily absorbed and has more nutrients than electrolyte solutions, says Dr. Lazar. However, parents should keep in mind that infants, especially newborns, are very susceptible to dehydration with diarrhea, so if you notice any change in a baby’s stool pattern, you should contact your pediatrician.
In certain cases of diarrhea, your child’s pediatrician might suggest a dairy-free or low-sugar diet on a short-term basis. If your child’s diarrhea persists, try keeping a food diary. For some people, certain foods can trigger diarrhea. For example, some patients with irritable bowel syndrome notice that high-fat, high-sugar or spicy foods tend to cause problems. For some children, gluten or dairy might trigger diarrhea. If you sense that a particular food is causing a problem for your child, write it down and discuss it with your doctor.
Preventing The Spread Of Infection
If a virus caused your childs diarrhea, do the following to prevent the spread to others:
- Make sure your child washes hands with soap and water after using the toilet and before eating.
- Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after touching your child and their eating utensils, dirty laundry or diapers .
- Keep your childs utensils, toys and dirty clothes away from others. Wash them in hot soapy water.
- Clean the toilet and hard surfaces often with disinfectant or an antimicrobial wipe. Let dry 15 seconds.
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