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Toddler diarrhea: How to recognize it and what to do

Childhood diarrhea occurs when the baby does more than 3 soft or liquid stools during the day, being common in infants due to a virus. To know if the baby has diarrhea you should observe the consistency of the poop because when they have diarrhea the stool has the following characteristics:

  • More liquid than normal;
  • Different color;
  • More intense smell, especially when the cause is gastroenteritis;
  • The diaper usually can not hold the stool, leaking poop to the baby's clothing;
  • The poop can come out in a strong squirt.

It is normal for baby's under 6 months to have a pasty consistency poop, being quite different from an adult. When the poop is normal, the baby looks healthy and although it is not well shaped like an adult, it is located in an area of ​​the diaper. In cases of diarrhea this does not happen and the poop spreads through the genital area and leaks, dirtying the clothes. However, normal poop can also leak and so it is not always easy to find out if the baby has diarrhea if it does nor present other signs and symptoms.

Toddler diarrhea: How to recognize it and what to do

When to go to the doctor

Parents should bring the baby to a pediatrician if the following symptoms are present:

  • More than 1 episode of diarrhea on the same day;
  • If the baby seems lethargic or sick, less active and very sleepy during the day;
  • If the diarrhea is very intense and there are no signs of improvement in 3 days;
  • If you notice diarrhea with pus or blood;
  • If other symptoms such as vomiting and fever above 38°C are present.

It is common for some viruses to cause vomiting, diarrhea and fever in the baby, but these symptoms can also arise when the baby eats for the first time a certain type of food and has some kind of intolerance or allergy, for example, and therefore it should always be evaluated by the doctor.

What can cause diarrhea in a baby

The main causes for diarrhea in a baby are viruses, which also cause vomiting, fever and loss of appetite. Gastroenteritis caused by Rotavirus is common in infants under 1 year of age, even if they have been vaccinated, and a main characteristic is that the diarrhea smells like rotten egg.

Some babies also get diarrhea when they are teething, not being a major cause for concern.

When diarrhea is caused by a viral infection, it can last for more than 5 days and the buttocks can become roasted, red, and may leak a little blood. So when your baby has diarrhea, their diaper should be changed as soon as it gets dirty. Parents should put ointment to protect the skin against rashes and keep the baby always clean and comfortable so that they can rest and recuperate faster.

Toddler diarrhea: How to recognize it and what to do

How to stop a baby's diarrhea

Usually diarrhea disappears by itself within 5 to 8 days, but the baby must be taken to the pediatrician so that he can evaluate and indicate the use of medication if necessary.

  • Baby's diet while having diarrhea

To care for the child with diarrhea, parents should give them light meals with cooked foods such as rice porridge, mashed vegetables with cooked and shredded chicken, for example. During this period the baby does not need to eat much, and it is more important for him to eat less, but more often.

Foods that should not be given to the baby with diarrhea are the high-fiber foods like cereals and peeled fruits. Also discouraged are chocolate, soda, cow's milk, cheese, sauces and fried foods, so as not to over stimulate the intestine, making it difficult to cure diarrhea.

The baby should drink plenty of fluids, such as water, coconut water, tea or natural juices, because it is through the stool that the child loses fluids, which can cause dehydration. In some cases, it may be necessary to give a homemade serum or use a purchased serum from pharmacies. See a recipe for homemade saline solution so that you can prepare it correctly

  • Remedies for diarrhea in a baby

It is not recommended to give medication to stop the baby's diarrhea, so you should never give medications like Imosec for children under 2 years of age. The pediatrician may recommend medication like Paracetamol in the form of syrup to relieve pain and discomfort, and lower fever if these symptoms are present. Another remedy that can be indicated to replenish the bacterial flora of the baby's intestine and that helps it recover faster are probiotics like Floratil, for example.

Home Remedy for Diarrhea in a Baby

To care of a child with  diarrhea, one can prepare a home remedy to help bind the intestine, relieving this discomfort. Chamomile tea can be made several times a day, but rice water is also an excellent option. Just leave the rice soaked in clean water for 10 minutes and then wash the rice in that water and drink that whitish water throughout the day.


  • ÁLVAREZ María Luisa et al. Nutrición en pediatría . 2ª. Caracas, Venezuela: Cania, 2009. 677-701.
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