Health Education

Diarrhea in Children

Diarrhea in Children

May 23, 2010  |  , ,   |  Spanish version »

When your child has diarrhea, three common principles can help solve the problem. Let your child continue to eat and drink, but don’t give them anything which will make them worse.

There are three principles in the treatment of diarrhea:

  1. Keep the child well-hydrated (let him drink).
  2. Keep the child well-nourished (let him eat).
  3. Don’t give him anything that will make him worse.

Avoid all foods that have upset the child’s stomach in the past. Fruit and juices act as a laxative and should be kept to a minimum. Bananas are an exception and are safe to eat.

Milk and most milk products may be poorly digested and should be stopped. Breast milk or an infant soy formula may be continued. For older children, Lactaid may be used instead.

Encourage fluids. A balanced electrolyte formula (Pedialyte) is best. In cases where there is a lot of vomiting, it should be given in small, frequent amounts. (if the child does not like the taste, you can mix the unflavored Pedialyte with sugar-free Koolaid powder”. Other fluids that can be used for the mildly ill include water, rice water, Gatorade.

Foods that are usually well-tolerated include: boiled rice, clear soups, toast, crackers, white (flour) tortillas, boiled potatoes, eggs, noodles, bananas, jello.

Yogurt or probiotics may help especially in cases of antibiotic associated diarrhea.

Good hygiene is the best way to prevent the spread of diarrhea in the family. Make sure everyone in the home washes their hands after going to the bathroom, after handling soiled diapers, and before preparing food or eating.

Watch for SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION:

  • The earliest sign is dryness of the roof of the child’s mouth. If you are not sure if your child’s mouth is dry, compare with your own mouth. (The child should be checked when he is quiet-not immediately after crying nor immediately after he has had something to drink).
  • The child is not wetting his diaper. (N.B. with some diapers, small amounts of urine are difficult to notice.)
  • The infant’s soft spot (fontanel) appears sunken or fallen.

Call the doctor (503-981-5348 day or night) if any of the following are occurring:

  • You think the child is dehydrated.
  • Recurrent vomiting develops.
  • There is mucus or blood in the stool.
  • There is a fever.
  • There are 10 or more stools per day.
  • There are other symptoms besides diarrhea that bother you.