Diarrhea

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It is normal for an infant to have lots of dirty diapers during the first 1‐2 months.

  • If you’re breastfeeding: poop can be light yellow, soft, or even runny, and they often contain small pieces that look like seeds. Breastfed babies may have a dirty diaper with every breastfeeding.
  • If your baby is formula-fed: poop can be yellow to tan and about as firm as peanut butter.
  • A greenish tinge is normal. If your baby is feeding and growing normally, you should not be concerned.  
  • Whether you breastfeed or formula-feed your baby, it’s normal to have less dirty diapers as your baby grows.
  • Poop should not be whitish and clay-like, watery and filled with mucus, or hard and dry. They should also not be black or bloody. If they are, call your doctor.

Signs of Diarrhea

Diarrhea isn’t just a loose stool (poop); it’s watery and can occur up to 12 times a day.

  • A sudden increase in how often he has dirty diapers
  • More than one per feeding
  • Appears to be more watery than usual and filled with mucus

Potential Causes of Diarrhea

Most are short‐lived and usually caused by a virus.

  • Use of antibiotics by the baby or breastfeeding mother
  • Not mixing or storing formula correctly
  • Excessive juice consumption. (The WIC program does not recommend any juice for children less than 12 months of age. To learn how much juice is acceptable for children over 12 months, explore these healthy eating tips of parents.
  • Food not safely prepared and stored. Keep these food safety tips in mind to prevent bacteria.
  • An allergic reaction or intolerance to a food. Learn the types of food allergies and how to help manage them.

What Parents Can Do

Continue to give regular feedings of breast milk or formula for infants. For a child over 12 months, follow these tips and continue to provide regular foods and fluids.

  • Provide small frequent meals
  • Offer plenty of fluids (Plain water should not be given to infants under 6 months old.)
  • Avoid juices and sugary drinks
  • Avoid foods high in fiber
  • Avoid greasy and spicy foods

Don’t use over-the-counter medicines

Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to treat diarrhea in adults can be dangerous for infants, toddlers, and young children. Talk to a doctor before giving your child an over-the-counter medicine, probiotics, or any other complementary or alternative medicines.

Watch for dehydration

Dehydration can be dangerous for newborns, infants, and children. Signs of dehydration include:

  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • No tears when crying
  • No wet diapers for 3 hours
  • High fever
  • Acting lethargic which means sluggish, tired, low energy, or weak

When to Contact a Doctor

Contact your doctor if diarrhea doesn’t improve after 24 hours OR if any of the following symptoms appear:

  • Poop containing blood or pus
  • Black poop
  • A temperature above 102°F
  • Signs of dehydration

Sources: FDA, NIH, HealthyChildren.org, HealthyChildren.org

This post was last updated on December 19th, 2019 at 11:39 AM

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