It’s normal for babies to have diarrhea and it’s more common than you can imagine. There are many reasons for your child to have this condition, but most of the time, the underlying reasons are quite trivial. Diarrhea can be an indication of another sickness as well, but for now, let us focus on treating diarrhea in babies as one separate condition.
Identifying Diarrhea In Your Baby
Baby poop comes in different textures and consistencies. And they’re much softer than an adult and can be softer than usual as well. Plus, it’s completely normal for an infant to have bowel movements twice or thrice a day. So, how do you know whether your child has diarrhea or whether their bowel movements are normal?
Normal baby poop will look yellow, brown, green (also called meconium poop), and can be runny, soft, thick, or even more formed. The type of motion your child gets mainly depends on their diet. Whether you choose to breastfeed, or formula feed, here is what you need to know about your baby’s poop:
If you breastfeed your baby and notice yellowish, runny stools, there’s nothing to worry about. It’s normal for breastfed babies to have such poop. However, this poses a challenge in determining whether that’s diarrhea because breastfed babies do have runny stools often due to the contents of breast milk. One rule of thumb to follow is to see if it happens more often than possible. If the frequency of runny motions increases along with it being more watery and looser than usual, then that’s certainly diarrhea.
Formula-fed babies have browner, thicker, and firmer poop. This is a huge contrast to breastfed baby poop and identifying diarrhea in formula-fed babies is much easier. Anything other than firmer poop means that your formula-fed baby has diarrhea. However, if your child has one episode of watery poop, then it’s nothing of concern. But, two or more could mean that your child’s stomach is not feeling well. So, keep a keen eye on your baby.
Causes Of Diarrhea In Babies
Your baby can get diarrhea for several reasons. There could be some general causes or a few other causes related to breastfeeding and formula feeding. Irrespective of what your child eats, diarrhea can happen for several reasons. Here’s a list of some general causes:
- Their Surroundings: Children can contract bacteria, viruses, and parasites very easily. They like to play in the sand and on the floor, which are places known for being unhygienic. If your child is in daycare, they are bound to come in contact with other children who are probably doing the same thing as your child does: putting fingers in their mouth and playing in the sandpit. Germs get transferred very easily and that can be the primary cause of diarrhea.
- Foods: Changing your baby’s diet leads to significant changes, especially when you introduce dairy products, eggs, peanuts, or shellfish. They are known to be significant allergens and that’s why you need to introduce such types of food slowly. If you’re a breastfeeding mother, what you eat is really important. Gassy foods, cow’s milk, caffeine, chocolates, are primary triggers of diarrhea. For formula-feeding mothers, the protein in the formula-based cow’s milk could be the main reason why your child is having running stools. Soy-based products are other allergens as well, so it’s really important to take care of your baby’s dietary plan.
- Medicines: If your baby has been taking a lot of antibiotics for whatever reason, that could irritate their stomach and cause their bowels moments to be runny and watery.
- Traveling: Babies can have diarrhea while traveling just as adults can. The probability of babies and young children having diarrhea while traveling is high, so it’s better you make necessary arrangements before you start your trip.
- Medical Conditions: Health-related conditions such as an infected digestive tract, gastrointestinal (GI) disorder, or inflammatory bowel disease could be some underlying reasons for this to happen.
- Teething: Teething has no direct link to diarrhea. But, babies tend to put various things in their mouth (especially toys and teethers) while teething and this causes germs, and bacteria to transfer in the baby’s stomach.
Effects Of Diarrhea
Fluids leave the body at a rampant rate when a baby has diarrhea. If a baby loses more fluids than their usual intake through their feedings, that could lead to serious dehydration. Babies dehydrate quickly and that’s why you need to watch out for these signs given below:
- Dry mouth and lips
- Poor eating habits
- Being too cranky
- Crying doesn’t produce as many tears
- Babies can use up to 8 diapers in a day. Anything less than that could mean dehydration.
Treatment Of Diarrhea In Babies
Ensure Proper Hydration
Diarrhea is easily treatable at home. Only keep in mind that hydration is key for your baby to recover from this illness. You don’t want your baby to suffer from severe dehydration, which can lead to intravenous (IV) fluids being administered in the hospital.
Implement Good Hygienic Habits
Diarrhea infections are contagious and can spread much faster if proper hygiene is not practiced. Irrespective of whether your baby has diarrhea or not, ensure that you wash your hands after changing the baby’s diapers, or after using the washroom. Encourage your family to do the same as well. This cuts down the spread of germs by half.
Prevent Diaper Rash
Change your baby’s diaper as often as possible and ensure that your baby’s bottom is clean and dry. Wet diapers irritate your baby’s skin and this precedes a diaper rash. You don’t want that happening! So, be a bit more vigilant in this regard. Use a diaper ointment after you change each diaper as it’s soothing for the baby.
It is natural to stop all types of feeding when you notice the slightest hint of diarrhea. But, where babies are concerned, it’s advised to continue feeding the child as per the normal feeding schedule. Babies dehydrate quickly, especially if the baby has diarrhea. Therefore, it’s necessary to continue the nourishment; keep feeding your child so that they are healthy and no further complications arise.
When To Call Your Doctor
Diarrhea in babies gets better in a little while. But if you notice one or more of the following symptoms, it may be advised to contact your doctor as soon as possible:
- If there’s fever (over 104°F) along with diarrhea
- There’s blood in your baby’s stools
- Your child seems to be in immense pain
- When you come across any signs of dehydration in your child
- When diarrhea takes more than 2 days to go away
Diarrhea in babies is nothing to worry about. Just make sure that your baby receives enough fluids to prevent dehydration. You can always contact your doctor for extra advice or any tips. If you are away and can’t schedule a physical appointment, then you can make use of the ImmunifyMe app. You have the option to connect with pediatricians virtually and even store your child’s health records and prescriptions for further reference. Keeping track of immunizations is a challenge, but with this app, you won’t miss out on your child’s vaccination dates.
FAQs On Diarrhea In Babies
Can Teething Cause Diarrhea?
Teething has no direct relation to diarrhea. However, infants have the habit of putting toys and other things in their mouths, especially when they’re teething. This causes germs to enter and spread, thus causing diarrhea.
When Should I Take My Baby To The Doctor For Diarrhea?
Call your doctor, or seek immediate medical attention when:
- Fever is over 104°F along with other symptoms and diarrhea
- Blood in stools
- Notice signs of dehydration
- When the time taken to recover is more than 2 days
- The baby is in immense inconsolable pain
- Your child starts vomiting
How Long Is Too Long For Baby Diarrhea?
Diarrhea in babies is pretty common and it takes no longer than two days for it to go on its own. If it does persist for longer, then it means that your child has a case of severe diarrhea and you might have to get in touch with your pediatrician.