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Diarrhea is a condition that changes both the consistency and frequency of the baby's waste output. Each baby has her own stool pattern that changes slowly as she gets on with age.


If bowel movements change noticeably within only a few days, she may have diarrhea. Any baby who has more than one stool per feeding should also be checked, even if this isn't a sudden change. Also check the stool consistency to see if it is not too liquid-like. The stool might also be more odorous than usual. Other signs of illness in your baby, such as poor feeding, a newly congested nose and a new fever, make the diagnosis of diarrhea more likely.

A newborn generally poops up to ten times a day, and an older baby may poop anywhere from a couple of times a day to once or twice a week. (In other words, you'll need to know what's normal for your baby.


This condition is caused by any number of bacteria or viruses, and usually lasts between 5 - 7 days. Other than infection, a change in diet (including a change in mother's diet if the baby is breast-fed), antibiotic use can also trigger the condition. In most cases the diarrhea will resolve by itself within a week or so.

The central concern with diarrhea is the possibility of dehydration from loss of bodily fluids. Treatment is aimed at preventing dehydration, the real culprit. The good news is most children with diarrhea can be treated safely at home.

Feeding Routine?

If your baby is breast-fed, continue doing so. Breast-feeding helps prevent diarrhea cases by half. If your baby still seems thirsty after or between nursing sessions, you can supplement her with water or pediatric electrolyte solution.

You might want to switch to a soy-based formula if your baby is formula-fed until the diarrhea subsides. Do not dilute the formula. If you are continuing with the usual formula, then reduce the formula added to water by half. Consult with your baby's pediatrician for advice. Here again, supplement baby with an oral rehydration solution or water to help replenish the fluids and electrolytes that have been lost in the diarrheal stools.

Add yoghurt to baby's meal. The active cultures found in yoghurt can help to restore her regular bowel movement.

When to call your doctor?

Call your doctor if your baby is under 3 months and has diarrhea with a fever. Vomiting for 24 hours, 8 stools in 8 hours, or the presence of blood, mucus, or pus in the stool should also prompt a call to your pediatrician. If the diarrhea persists for more than a week, or is accompanied by more than 72 hours of fever, get in touch with your pediatrician. Contact your pediatrician right away if your baby won't drink or shows signs of dehydration (dry mouth, crying without tears, sunken soft spot, lethargy, or going 8 hours without producing urine).


Hygiene! Practice hygiene by washing your hands and your baby's hands frequently since babies love mouthing. Wash fruits and vegetables before serving and toys and whatever else your baby touches more often. Wash your hands with soap thoroughly after each diaper change or using the washroom.


Tummy massage

Start at the belly button and then massage outwards in circles in a clockwise direction. Some oil or cream on your fingers can also help. Only continue if your baby enjoys the massage and is comfortable and relaxed.


Place your baby his back. Hold legs and turn them gently in a quick cycling motion. This will make the stomach muscles move and, in turn, put gentle pressure on the intestines to make them move.


A warm bath can relax your baby so the stools are passed more easily. Once your baby has relaxed in the bath, you can also massage their stomach (see above). After cleaning your baby's bottom, apply some cream or petroleum jelly (Vaseline) around the outside of the anus


Don't put a thermometer, suppository or enema or anything else inside your baby's anus to stimulate bowel movement, because this may cause damage. Still, check with your doctor for advice.


If your baby is on formula milk, you should follow the instructions on the package carefully. Making the mixture too thick by putting in more than the recommended amount of powder can lead to constipation and other medical problems. It's best to stick to the same brand, because different formulas may require different dilutions. Switch to a low-iron or soy formula until constipation clears.


Give your baby plenty of fluids preferably cooled, boiled water.


Once your baby is between four to six months old, you can start introducing more bran-rich cereals and fruit or vegetable purées into their diet. These are rich in fibre and will help prevent constipation. Prune purée is particularly good for this purpose.

Final thought

If the above suggestions don't work for your baby, consult a doctor about special laxatives for chronic constipation.

Mothers with older babies

If your baby is on solid foods, then carrots, rice cereal, bananas, potatoes, and applesauce can help slow down the stools. Avoid citrus fruits and juices, peas, pears, peaches, plums, prunes and apricots until the stools are back to normal, which should be within a week or so.

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Disclaimer: Information contained on this Web site is intended solely to make available general summarized information to the public. It should not be substituted for medical advice. It is your responsibility to consult with your pediatrician and/or health care provider before acting on any advice on this web site. While OEM endeavors to provide up-to-date and accurate information, it is not liable for any advice whatsoever rendered nor is it liable for the completeness or timeliness of any information on this site.
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