M.Ed., RD, LDN, CLC
Andie is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Lactation Consultant, and Certified Personal Trainer who thinks of nutrition counseling as equal parts science and sensitivity. She specializes in lactation, sports nutrition, exercise fitness, and weight loss programs.
Who knew that one of the first rules of motherhood is thinking and talking about poop around the clock? You’ll astutely follow your baby’s typical poop pattern, whether that’s moving bowels 3 times a day, once every 3 days or somewhere in between (all of which are completely normal). While the pattern may shift over time, especially as she transitions to solid food, deviations from her norm can be both uncomfortable for her and alarming for you, especially when that change involves diarrhea.
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It’s important to treat your child’s diarrhea promptly, as the most immediate risk for most children is dehydration. If your child has diarrhea, take a proactive approach by checking for these early symptoms of dehydration: more than 6 hours without a wet diaper, no tears while crying or a dry, parched mouth. More advanced symptoms of dehydration in your child can include: irritability, excessive sleepiness or fussiness, urine that looks darker and smells stronger than usual, sunken eyes, hands and feet that feel cold and look splotchy, sunken fontanels (the soft spots on your baby’s head) or deep, rapid breathing with a high heart rate.
A first line of home management for diarrhea is additional fluids. Breastmilk, formula if your child is under 12 months, milk/milk alternative if your child is 1 year or older, and water can be sufficient, but if your child is suffering from prolonged or more severe diarrhea, your healthcare provider might recommend a rehydration drink.
In addition to hydration, attention to diet can be important. You don’t need to worry too much about altering your child’s diet but do look to emphasize naturally binding, nutritious, foods like oatmeal, bananas and applesauce, and easily digested fruits high in water content like honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon.
Some probiotics, can potentially reduce the severity of the symptoms of diarrhea, ask your child’s healthcare provider before giving them to your child.
Anti-diarrheal medications are sold over the counter (as well as by prescription) but should not be used unless directed by your child’s healthcare provider.
Offer breastmilk, formula if your child is under 12 months, breastmilk milk/milk alternative (if your child is 1 year or older), or water and allow your child to drink until she is full.
If your child has worsening diarrhea and/or is showing little interest in her usual drinks, try these alternatives while also checking in with her healthcare provider:
The sugar in juice, sports drinks and soda can worsen diarrhea. Sports drinks and soda especially (with their artificial sweeteners and caffeine content) should be avoided with babies and toddlers generally.
If juice is the only fluid your child will drink, dilute 1 ounce of juice with 4 ounces of water to increase her water intake.
Focus on the following foods:
Restrict the following:
Follow good food safety practices to lessen the risk of foodborne illness and read Storing baby food for all the specifics.
Keep your little one’s tush comfortable and smooth by using damp cloths instead of baby wipes, rinsing her bottom with water, and patting dry, or better yet, air-drying, instead of wiping. Frequent diaper changes (or even some diaper-free time!) and protective ointments and creams may also help.
If your child is experiencing any of the following, do not hesitate to call your healthcare provider:
Diarrhea in Babies. Healthy Children.org. Date accessed 10 June 2015.