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Diarrhea in infants

Children who have diarrhea may have less energy, dry eyes, or a dry, sticky mouth. They may also not wet their diaper as often as usual.

Give your child fluids for the first 4 to 6 hours. At first, try 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of fluid every 30 to 60 minutes. You can use:

  • An over-the-counter drink, such as Pedialyte or Infalyte -- do not water down these drinks
  • Pedialyte frozen fruit pops

If you are nursing, keep breastfeeding your infant. If you are using formula, use it at half strength for 2 to 3 feedings after the diarrhea starts. Then begin regular formula feedings again.

If your child throws up, give only a little bit of fluid at a time. You can start with as little as 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes.

When your child is ready for regular foods, try:

  • Bananas
  • Chicken
  • Crackers
  • Pasta
  • Rice cereal

Avoid:

  • Apple juice
  • Dairy
  • Fried foods
  • Full-strength fruit juice

The BRAT diet was recommended by some health care providers in the past. There is not a lot of evidence that it is better than a standard diet for upset stomach, but it probably can't hurt.

BRAT stands for the different foods that make up the diet:

  • Bananas
  • Rice cereal
  • Applesauce
  • Toast

Bananas and other solid foods are most often not recommended for a child who is actively vomiting.

WHEN TO CALL THE HEALTH CARE PROVIDER

Call your child's health care provider if your child has any of these symptoms:

  • Blood or mucus in the stool
  • Dry and sticky mouth
  • Fever that does not go away
  • Much less activity than normal (is not sitting up at all or looking around)
  • No tears when crying
  • No urination for 6 hours
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting

Alternative Names

When your infant has diarrhea; When your baby has diarrhea; BRAT diet; Diarrhea in children

References

Bhutta ZA. Acute gastroenteritis in children. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 340.

Update Date 7/10/2015