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Diarrhea in Infants

Call your doctor today to talk about your baby's diarrhea and vomiting. Your doctor will want to make sure that your baby is not dehydrated.

Diarrhea and vomiting together usually are a sign of gastroenteritis, an infection of the stomach and intestines (gastrointestinal tract), that is caused mostly by viruses or bacteria. Many children with gastroenteritis also have mild fever.

Babies with gastroenteritis can become dehydrated especially quickly when they do not take in enough fluids to replace those liquids that are lost with vomiting and diarrhea. If your baby is breastfed, breastfeed frequently to prevent dehydration. If your baby is nursing well and does not have any signs of dehydration, no additional fluids are necessary; breastmilk is easily digested and is perfect for babies with diarrhea.

If your baby is formula-fed, continue formula-feeding with regular, full-strength formula, small amounts at a time. If your baby's diarrhea or vomiting is getting worse, your pediatrician may recommend a lactose-free formula or an oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte or Rehydralyte that contains the right amount of sugars and salts to replace those lost with diarrhea. Your doctor can tell you how much to give, which depends on your child's weight, how much diarrhea he is having, and whether he is dehydrated or not. If your baby is eating, you may give him plain water; if he's not eating or taking other fluids, giving plain water alone can cause dangerous electrolyte problems.

Your baby doesn't need to eat while he's sick; fluids are the most important thing. If he does want to eat, keep it to small amounts of simple foods like rice cereal. If your baby is over six months and taking table foods, rice, crackers, and toast are good choices.

As long as the diarrhea and vomiting continue, remember to constantly watch your baby for signs of dehydration, such as decreased urination, dry mouth, no tears, sleepiness, pale skin, or crankiness.


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