Infant diarrhea is quite a common ailment in the US and is therefore a cause of concern. Infants usually have frequent bowel movements and their stools are generally of soft consistency. However, you can identify the symptoms of diarrhea in the baby if the frequency of bowel movements has increased and if the stools are far more watery and unformed than usual. Other outward symptoms that could be related to baby diarrhea include the baby acting unwell, refusing feed, being lethargic and suffering from cold or fever.
Factors leading to baby diarrhea
If the mother is nursing then a change in the mother’s diet may spark off a bout of diarrhea. Babies are often down with diarrhea due to teething. Antibiotics and other incompatible medicines may also induce baby diarrhea.
Allergies or food intolerance to certain foods may be other factors leading to baby diarrhea. Some babies have lactose intolerance so milk and milk products should be avoided in these cases. Apple juice and cherry juice contain complex sugars, which your baby may find difficult to digest.
Infant diarrhea may be the result of a viral, bacterial or parasitic infection; however, the most common cause of diarrhea in babies is the occurrence of stomach flu. Rotavirus is the main culprit behind acute diarrhea and rapid progressive dehydration. Dehydration, if left unattended to, may even be fatal.
Dehydration – signs and cure
- The baby has not wet the diaper even after three or four hours.
- No tears even while crying.
- Baby is lethargic.
- Baby is cranky and keeps on crying.
- The baby displays sunken eyes, abdomen or cheeks.
- Baby’s mouth and tongue look dry.
To cure dehydration you should administer regular sips of oral rehydration solutions (ORS). An infant can be fed as many as four bottles of such fluids to replenish the body with lost fluids and electrolytes.
Infant diarrhea treatment
- Consult the pediatrician if there are repeated watery stools and vomiting, if stools are accompanied by blood and mucus and if the baby is having fever above 104 degree F.
- Dehydration should be attended to at once.
- Do not feed your baby for a few hours to soothe the gastro-intestinal tract.
- Administer small and regular sips of fluid in cases of diarrhea accompanied by vomiting.
- Do not administer anti-diarrheal drugs unless prescribed by the doctor.
- Be judicious about starting a bland and easy-to-digest food once the diarrhea lessens.
- Food like applesauce, strained bananas, mashed potatoes and soft rice may be given.
- You may resume formula food after administering ORS for four to six hours.
- Continue nursing your baby but more frequently.
- Maintain hygiene at all times.
- Safeguard your baby against diarrhea by administering Rotavirus vaccine.