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Diarrhea Treatment in Children

Call 911 if your child: 

  • Is not responding to touch or sounds
  • Has skin that doesn't bounce back when pinched
  • Is breathing fast
  • Is confused

Diarrhea -- frequent watery stools most often caused by a virus -- in babies and toddlers usually goes away on its own. It's important to watch your child for signs of dehydration and make sure he or she gets enough fluids.

Call Doctor If:

  • Your baby has diarrhea and is less than 3 months old
  • You are worried that your child may be dehydrated or your child has had diarrhea for more than 24 hours.
  • The diarrhea contains blood, mucous, or pus.

1. Give Fluids

  • If your child is breastfeeding, continue nursing as usual.
  • Your doctor may want you to give your baby small amounts of oral electrolyte solution. Check the amount with your doctor.
  • Give toddlers oral electrolyte solution, ice chips, or clear broth. Encourage your child to take small frequent sips instead of drinking too much at once.
  • Offer your toddler popsicles made with oral electrolyte solution.
  • Don't give your child any anti-diarrhea medication unless your pediatrician tells you to.

2. Go Slowly

  • Feed toddlers mild foods in their regular diet. Avoid spicy or fried foods.
  • Once the diarrhea stops, gradually return to a normal diet.

3. Observe Your Child

  • Call your pediatrician if your child's symptoms don't seem to be getting better or your child has signs of dehydration, such as crying without tears, fewer wet diapers than usual, urine that is darker than usual, or a sunken soft spot on the top of the head.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on September 16, 2013

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