We all know how a bout of diarrhea can leave you feeling pretty meh and, unfortunately, babies aren’t immune to it either. If changing your baby’s diaper is cause for horror — and a hazmat suit — they may well be suffering from an unfortunate case of baby diarrhea. So what should you do about it, and what do you need to know about how to help a baby with diarrhea? Here’s what to do about this particularly stinky situation….
In this article: 📝
- What causes infant diarrhea?
- What does baby diarrhea look like?
- What should I do if my baby has diarrhea?
- How to treat diarrhea in babies
- People also ask…
What causes infant diarrhea?
First up, why oh why is your pure little cherub suddenly stinking up the place (more than usual)? The causes of baby diarrhea are varied, and often it’s not a sign of any serious illness, so try not to stress. The most common causes of baby diarrhea are:
- An illness born from a virus, bacteria, fungal organism, or parasite. We promise that is not as bad as it sounds!
- A reaction to medication like a course of antibiotics.
- Starting solid foods can get your baby’s tummy and digestive system all out of whack.
- An allergy or intolerance to cow’s milk products. This could be in solid form if they have started eating solid foods, or an ingredient in their formula, or a reaction to * the dairy in your diet if you are breastfeeding.
- Sometimes it’s unknown. Annoying, huh?
What does baby diarrhea look like?
“But my baby’s poop is super weird anyway, so how do I tell?” we hear you cry! And we sure do hear you! Normal baby poop is a whole spectrum of color and texture. Newborn diarrhea can be particularly tough to identify, as, let’s face it, they poop A LOT. It’s not uncommon for them to poop after every feed, or even more often, for the first few weeks. But as time passes, the frequency of bowel movements generally slows down, until they may just produce one dirty diaper a day, or every other day, once they’re about two months old.
And when it comes to color and texture? You’ll get to know your own baby’s poop after a while, so it will get easier to spot if something is wrong. Generally speaking, breastfed baby poop is yellowish in color and runny in consistency. Formula-fed babies tend to have thicker poop in a darker shade of tan (you’ll never look at peanut butter the same again). If your baby has started solids, well, there’s a whole world of textures and colors out there for you to look forward to, but generally speaking, it should be some kind of earthy tone.
Sidenote–the colors you should never see in your baby’s diaper are white, black, or red. If you do, it’s a call to your doctor right away, mama.
So how do you tell if your baby has diarrhea? Their poop will likely be:
- Darker or greener, or yellower if it’s usually a darker brown.
- Wetter or much more watery than usual.
- Much smellier, with a stronger, more acid, foul smell than usual.
- Larger in quantity (like leaking out the sides of every diaper).
- Streaked with mucus or blood.
- More frequent.
What should I do if my baby has diarrhea?
So, you’ve now identified that your baby has diarrhea. What’s the next step? You’ll be glad to hear most cases of baby diarrhea can be dealt with at home with some good old-fashioned love and attention.
If your baby has diarrhea, keep feeding them breastmilk or formula as you usually would, to try to replace the extra fluid they’re losing. You may want to offer feeds more frequently if their dirty diapers are very frequent.
They may develop a diaper rash due to the extra acidity from their frequent dirty diapers. To keep on top of it, make sure you change your baby’s diaper as soon as possible after each bowel movement. Instead of using packaged baby wipes, use a soft washcloth and warm water to gently wipe their bottom, and pat it dry, or let it air dry. Using a barrier cream like vaseline, or a zinc oxide-based product, at every diaper change can help too.
The main concern with a bout of baby diarrhea is that they may become dehydrated. Their little bodies can quickly lose too much fluid when they are passing it out of their system so quickly. Signs of dehydration in babies include:
- Less than six wet diapers in 24 hours, and the urine they do pass is dark and strong-smelling.
- Their lips and inside of their mouth is dry.
- They don’t produce tears when they cry.
- The soft spot (fontanelle) on the top of their head is sunken.
- They are lethargic and more irritable than usual.
- They are not interested in feeding or eating at all.
If your baby is dehydrated, they probably require medical attention. Speak with a doctor if your baby has:
- Had diarrhea for 24 hours or more.
- Signs of dehydration.
- Diarrhea as well as a fever, rash, abdominal pain when passing a bowel movement, or is a newborn (less than three months of age).
How to treat diarrhea in babies
So what helps babies with diarrhea? Aside from keeping your little one hydrated and as comfortable as possible, it’s just a waiting game, mama. Sometimes your doctor may suggest a pediatric rehydration drink to help replace lost salts and fluids, but breastmilk or formula is usually enough to get your little one feeling better. If your baby is very dehydrated, they might require a trip to hospital for IV fluids.
People also ask…
When should I worry about baby diarrhea?
Although sometimes you may seek medical advice for your baby’s diarrhea, it will often be resolved easily. If your baby has frequent bouts of diarrhea (more than twice a year) it’s worth seeking advice as to whether there may be an underlying cause, like an allergy.
What can I give my baby to stop diarrhea?
Over the counter, anti-diarrheal medications aren’t recommended for use in babies. If your baby’s diarrhea is caused by an identifiable illness, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or medication to treat the cause.
How long does diarrhea last for a baby?
It’s recommended to get medical advice if diarrhea lasts longer than 24 hours and your little one is feeling unwell. Diarrhea is the body’s way of expelling germs, so it often just needs to run its course if it’s not causing any other issues like dehydration.
Read more: Can Teething Cause Diarrhea?