What Is Normal?
The consistency and color of your child's bowel movements may vary from day to day. Breast-fed babies have very frequent, loose, seedy, yellow stools, while formula-fed babies will have a few mushy or semi-hard stools each day. After a baby begins solid foods, it is normal to see a change in the, consistency, frequency, smell, and color (yellow, brown and green) of the stools. As new foods are introduced or new combinations of foods are offered, it is normal to see daily changes in your child's stools.
Looser bowel movements can also be caused by a food intolerance (lactose intolerance), milk allergy, teething (swallowed saliva), when child has a cold (swallowing mucus), treatment with antibiotics, a bacterial infection or most commonly, a viral infection.
How Do I Know If My Child Is Having Diarrhea?
Diarrhea refers to very loose or watery stools, occurring more than 6-8 times in 24 hours.
When Is Treatment Necessary?
Vomiting, diarrhea and decreased fluid intake may occur if your child has an intestinal virus. Most vomiting will stop after 4 hours of resting your child's stomach (no fluids, water, or solids for 4 hours). If vomiting persists, diarrhea is greater than 8-10 times per 24 hours, or your child will not drink fluids, dehydration may occur. Signs of dehydration include:
In most children, the change in bowel movements is not serious enough to require special treatment and may be controlled by eliminating the offending agent, such as a new food. Antibiotics may cause looser bowel movements, but usually no treatment is necessary. If diarrhea develops while on an antibiotic, either the dose may be decreased or the antibiotic may be changed. Do not stop an antibiotic without first talking to our office.
Before you call our office, please review the following list. This information will help guide us in recommending the best treatment for your child.
Guidelines For Treating Diarrhea
The following foods will help bind loose stools (BRATY diet):
The following foods are higher in fat and will lessen your child's diarrhea:
If your child has been eating solid foods, avoid the following:
Are Any Medicines Necessary For Treating Diarrhea?
Most children with diarrhea caused by an intestinal virus do not require treatment with any antidiarrheal medicines. Antidiarrheal medicines may only prolong your child's illness. Dietary changes are most effective (as described above) and should be used first.
Imodium A-D may be used if your child is not sick and the diarrhea is persisting greater than 4 days. Do not use in a child less than 2 years of age. Do not use during the first 72 hours of diarrhea, and only use for a maximum of 3 days.
Call Our Office If Any Of The Following Are Present:
1. Your child appears sick or signs of dehydration are present (see above).
2. Your child is having persistent vomiting or blood in the stool.
3. You feel your child is not drinking adequate fluids as described above.
4. Diarrhea is not improving with the treatments suggested above.
Our goal is to prevent dehydration. Adequate fluid intake with the proper electrolytes is necessary to prevent dehydration. Avoid plain water as the only source of fluids (no electrolytes). Weight loss is normal when your child is sick. Any lost weight will be regained once your child your child is feeling better and begins to eat again.