Infant diapers can be a source of puzzlement for new parents as baby stool seems to come in a virtual rainbow of colors and consistencies. So what are the signs of infant diarrhea, how do you treat it, and when should you call your pediatrician?

An occasional loose stool is no cause for alarm. However, warning signs that your baby has developed diarrhea include more than one stool per feeding, a sudden change in how many dirty diapers your baby produces, and stools that look markedly more watery than usual. Your baby may also be fussy or difficult to console, or alternatively seem more tired than usual. In most cases of diarrhea, your infant can continue to breastfeed or bottle feed normally.

Some instances of diarrhea, however, warrant a visit to your doctor. Diarrhea that lasts more than one day can lead to dehydration. Signs of dehydration include crying without tears and fewer wet diapers. A dry mouth or the soft spot on the top of the head appearing sunken are late signs of dehydration and constitute an urgent medical situation.

If your baby does not produce a wet diaper for eight hours, call to your pediatrician right away. If your baby is vomiting as well, preventing normal feeding, you should also call your pediatrician as your child can become dehydrated more quickly. In cases of dehydration, your doctor may advise that your baby needs electrolyte replacement fluids, which are available at most drug stores and supermarkets. Don’t try to make your own fluids as the pre-made versions are specially formulated to replace the fluids your baby is losing. Plain water is not appropriate for babies with diarrhea as it can cause significant side effects including seizure.

Fortunately, most of the time, infant diarrhea is over quickly. However, you will want to watch your child closely. Your infant can’t tell you about feeling dehydrated, so watch for the signs, and if in doubt, call your baby’s doctor.

Takeaways

  • Most babies can continue to breastfeed or bottlefeed normally even through a bout of diarrhea.
  • Occasionally, your baby may need electrolyte replacement—like Pedialyte—under the advice and guidelines of your baby’s doctor.
  • Watch for signs your baby is becoming dehydrated, particularly if eight hours pass with no wet diaper.
  • Look for a dry mouth or sunken soft spot on the top of your baby’s head for dehydration signs.

References

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Health issues: Diarrhea.
  2. National Institutes of Health. Babies and Diarrhea.

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