What is diarrhea?

Diarrhea can be caused by a virus or bacteria in your child's intestines. This makes your child's bowel movements (BMs) looser and come more often. Mild diarrhea is when your child has a few loose BMs. When the BMs are watery, the diarrhea is severe.

When your child has diarrhea, it is important to make sure your child does not lose too much water. If you child has these signs, he or she could be dehydrated:

  • Dry, sticky mouth.
  • No tears.
  • No urine in over 8 hours.
  • Dark urine.

Taking care of the diarrhea can keep your child from losing too much water.

Taking Care of Watery (Severe) Diarrhea

If your baby is less than 1 year old and bottle-fed:

  • Give him fluids more often than you would normally and as much as he wants. Fluids prevent dehydration.
  • Give your baby Kao Lectrolyte or Pedialyte instead of formula for 4 to 6 hours.
  • After 4 to 6 hours, give your baby formula again. You may need soy formulas if the diarrhea is severe or doesn't improve in 3 days.
  • If your baby is over 4 months old, try rice cereal, strained bananas, and mashed potatoes.

If your baby is less that 1 year old and breast-fed:

  • Breast-feed more often.
  • If your baby is over 4 months old, try rice cereal, strained bananas, and mashed potatoes.
  • Offer Kao Lectrolyte or Pedialyte between feedings only if your baby does not urinate as often as usual or has dark-colored urine.

If your child is over 1 year old:

  • Give rice cereal, oatmeal, bread, noodles, mashed potatoes, carrots, applesauce, and strained bananas.
  • Pretzels or salty crackers can also help.
  • Give water or diluted Kool-Aid as the main fluids.
  • Caution: If your child does not want to eat solid food, give your child milk or formula rather that water.

Taking Care of Mild Diarrhea

  • Feed your child like always. (You can keep giving formula to your baby.)
  • Stay away from all fruit juices.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • Your child has not urinated in 8 hours or has a very dry mouth or no tears.
  • There is any blood in the diarrhea.
  • Your child has had more than 8 BMs in the last 8 hours.
  • The diarrhea is watery AND your child also throws up clear fluids three or more times.
  • Your child starts acting very sick.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

    There is mucus or pus in the BMs
  • Your child has a fever that last more than 3 days.
  • The mild diarrhea lasts more that 2 weeks.
  • You have other concerns or questions.

Published by McKesson Clinical Reference Systems
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