Diarrhea in Babies – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

6 min read

Written by Suma rp

Suma rp

Diarrhea in Babies

Babies can suffer from diarrhea due to changes in food habits or a change in the mother’s diet if they are breastfeeding. Sometimes, babies eat faulty things lying on the ground, which can also result in diarrhea. There are other reasons for diarrhea in babies like bacterial, and parasitic infections. Such conditions might require medical intervention.

In case of mild diarrhea, home remedies can help like making a few changes in your food habits and in baby’s diet, keeping the environment clean and sterilizing their utensils. But if you see something outside normal, it is better to get your doctor’s help for treatment. Diarrhea in babies can quickly lead to dehydration, and it is an overwhelming experience to deal with. Hence, you must always consider keeping your doctor updated about any deviation in your baby’s daily activities.

In This Article

Top 8 Common Causes of Diarrhea in Babies

Because of their immature immune system, babies are prone to infections and stomach issues, diarrhea is one of them. While it is common to see some loose stools in babies occasionally, persistent watery stools are a symptom of diarrhea and must be reported to the doctor.

Here are the most common causes of diarrhea in babies

1. Medications

If the breastfeeding mother is on any antibiotics or if the baby is on medication, and some antibiotics may also cause diarrhea in babies.

2. Bacterial Infections

Diarrhea in Babies can also be because of a bacterial infection. Doctors may put your baby on antibacterial medication for a cure.

3. Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis in babies can make them frequent prey to diarrhea. Such situations need prompt medical intervention.

4. Change in Diet

Sometimes a change in the baby’s or a change in the breastfeeding mother’s diet can result in diarrhea. If you see a sudden change in your baby’s poop. Try eliminating a few foods that may put your baby at risk of catching diarrhea.

5. Parasitic Infections

Babies catch infections easily. Parasitic infection in babies can result in diarrhea and needs medical intervention for a cure. Doctors may prescribe anti-parasitic medications for such cases.

6. Food Allergy

In older babies who are on solids, food allergies can result in diarrhea. Feeding high-fiber food can also lead to diarrhea because their digestive system is not ready to break down extra fiber, which in turn leads to indigestion and diarrhea.

7. Stomach Bug

Gastroenteritis or stomach bug is a viral infection that may result in diarrhea in babies. Vomiting can also be a symptom of this.

[Read : Gastroenteritis in Babies]

8. Travelling

Travelling and change in water can also cause diarrhea in babies. Hence, it is important to carry a clean and home made baby food to avoid stomach issues. Do not feed outside foods to your baby.

Signs and Symptoms of Diarrhea in Babies

Symptoms of Diarrhea in Babies

Diarrhea leads to dehydration in babies and hence, it is vital to monitor the signs and symptoms of dehydration babies.

Here are a few noticeable common signs of dehydration in babies

  • Irritability and sluggishness
  • Fewer wet diapers than usual
  • Lethargy
  • Dry mouth and sticky lips
  • Loss of skin moisture
  • Sunken eyes
  • Frequent passing of loose stools
  • Vomiting

Inform about the above symptoms to your pediatrician if you see them persisting. Severe dehydration may need medical intervention for better cure.

[Read : Dehydration in Babies]

Treatment Options For Diarrhea in Babies

The main treatment for a baby suffering from diarrhea is plenty of fluid intakes. It will avoid the baby from getting dehydrated.

Here are a few treatment options for diarrhea in babies

  • For older babies, ensure to keep them on fluids like water, soups, or broth. This will help to maintain water balance in their body.
  • Doctors may prescribe pediatric ORS for baby diarrhea.
  • For breastfed babies, continue breastfeeding according to your doctor’s instructions.
  • You do not have to change the formula for your baby until the doctor advises you.
  • If the diarrhea is because of any infection, doctors may prescribe medications accordingly.
  • Acute diarrhea might require other treatments like, hospitalization and keeping the baby on intravenous fluids.

You must avoid few foods that can potentially worsen the condition.

  • Avoid apple juice
  • Do not give cow milk
  • Never encourage your baby with fried foods
  • Avoid giving full-strength fruit juices

Preventive Measures For Diarrhea in Babies

Preventive Measures For Diarrhea

Like all the other infections and allergies, diarrhea can also be prevented by following few steps. This will help your baby stay away from infections and other triggers that cause loose stools.

Here are a few measures to control or prevent diarrhea

  • Keep the environment around the baby clean and germ-free.
  • Sterilize their bottles, and sipper cups regularly to avoid contamination.
  • Wash your hands well before holding the baby. Babies are too tender and are vulnerable to catching infections.
  • If your baby is on solids and can drink water, then ensure to boil the water and cool it before giving it to the baby. Because, contaminated water can also be the reason for diarrhea.
  • Use fresh vegetables and fruits in your baby’s diet.
  • Do not undercook the baby food as it might cause digestion problems.
  • Ensure to carry homemade baby food when you are traveling. Avoid feeding outside food.
  • If you are breastfeeding, avoid spicy foods and foods that can potentially cause diarrhea in babies. Try to pick your food carefully, because what you eat goes to your baby through breastmilk.

How to Rehydrate Your Baby With ORS Solution?


Follow your doctor’s instructions while rehydrating your baby. You can also give your baby a small amount of oral rehydration solution approved by WHO. Get your doctor’s consent and prescription for the dosage. Doctors may suggest 1 or 2 teaspoons of ORS every few minutes (5 ml or 10 ml). For older babies, you can give electrolyte ice pops.

When Should You Consider Consulting a Doctor?

Talk to your pediatrician if you observe your baby having

  • Frequent loose stools
  • Watery stools with blood and pus
  • If the baby is urinating after a long gap (no urine over 8 hours). It is a sign of severe dehydration.
  • If the baby passes dark urine rather than clear urine
  • Dry mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Stomach pain

Diarrhea in infants can be an unpleasant experience as it can be exhausting for both you and the baby. However, it is common for babies to have loose stools often, and it usually goes away on its own. Home remedies work most of the times, and you can follow the WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines to treat diarrhea. But ensure to have your doctor’s consent. Also, if you observe any symptoms of dehydration, a prompt consultation can abstain the condition from worsening. It is always better to keep the environment germ free if you have a newborn at home.

[Read : Blood In Baby’s Stool And Diaper]


1. Are Breastfed Babies Less Susceptible to Getting Loose Motions?

Researches reveal that breastfed babies are less susceptible to get loose motions in comparison to formula fed. Breast milk contains antibodies (the human milk glycan contains oligosaccharides in their free and conjugated forms) that protect infants from many childhood diseases including diarrhea.

2. Does Teething Cause Diarrhea in Babies?

No, teething and diarrhea are not related. According to pediatricians, teething can cause excessive drooling, slightly increased body temperature and irritability in babies.

3. Can Formula Cause Diarrhea in Babies?

Yes, and it can be a reason for diarrhea. Introduction of formula milk in babies and changing the formula can sometimes cause difficulty in digestion. It can cause stomach irritability, cramps in the stomach, and diarrhea.

4. Do Dehydrated Babies Sleep More?

Dehydrated babies feel lethargic and sleepy. Babies don’t remain active and playful. It is a major symptom of dehydration in babies.

Read Also: Can Teething Cause Diarrhea In Babies?

Suma rp,M.Sc (Organic Chemistry) Rayalaseema University B.Sc (Biotechnology) Sri Krishna Devaraya University.

Suma is a passionate content writer with a strong keenness to understand the miracle of pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Suma has successfully transitioned into a full-time content writer and a key contributor at Being The Parent. She leverages on her experimental background in chemistry and experience in writing to come up with well-researched content that helps parents struggling to deal with various medical conditions of their children.Read more.

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