Diarrhea in Babies: Causes and Treatments

Unrecognizable Father Changing Diaper to His Crying Baby Son

Diarrhea is a very common disease for infants and toddlers. It can be dangerous if proper steps are not taken. Our son had diarrhea in the 11th month. Even though it was scary, we took proper initiatives, and he recovered well from it.

Why do babies get diarrhea? How can you prevent and cure the disease? Dr. S.A. Shamim explains the causes and treatments of diarrhea. 

What is diarrhea?

When babies have diarrhea, they pass loose watery stools three or more times per day. During this time, they pass stools more frequently than normal. 

Research findings of World health Organization (WHO)

Statistics of Diarrhea

Types of diarrhea:

⦿ Acute diarrhea:

Acute diarrhea persists for less than 14 days. Patients pass loose watery stool 3 times or more daily that does not contain blood. Acute diarrhea can be caused by Rotavirus which is very contagious. Vomiting and loose stools are the symptoms of acute diarrhea.

⦿ Persistent Diarrhea:

Inflammatory bowel disease causes persistent diarrhea. It is more dangerous than Acute Watery Diarrhea. It Lasts 14 days or longer. Abdominal cramps, nausea and bloating are the symptoms of it.

⦿ Dysentery:

Dysentery is an infection in babies’ intestines that causes diarrhea. It can occur due to a parasite or bacteria. Loose stool containing blood; fever and abdominal cramp are the symptoms of it.


Causes of diarrhea:

Mother’s diet:

Mothers who are breastfeeding should avoid foods which may trigger diarrhea in their little ones.  They should avoid spicy foods, sugar desserts and junk foods.   These foods might change the breast milk of mothers and cause diarrhea in babies. 


Antibiotics taken by a mother  can also affect her breast milk, and it may lead to diarrhea.

Food allergies:

Cow milk can cause diarrhea to your little one. Don’t feed cow milk until he or she is 2 years old. 


Virus, bacteria and parasites can cause infections, and it may lead to diarrhea. Rotavirus is the most common type of virus, and it kills 450000 children under age 5 every year. 

*Rare causes of diarrhea: cystic fibrosis, bowel infection.


Mild diarrhea is not dangerous. But severe diarrhea can cause the body lose too much water and minerals called electrolytes. This is called dehydration. Dehydration is a very serious issue for infants and toddlers. 

Symptoms of dehydration: 

  • Dry mouth. 
  • Lethargy/ unconscious.
  • No tears while crying. 
  • Sunken eyes.
  • Irritable 
  • Fewer wet diapers.
  • Dry skin
  • Sleepiness
  • Can’t eat well. 


You can take some initiatives which can help you treat dehydration and other complications in your baby. 


Breastfeed your baby regularly. Breast Milk contains antibodies which help babies fight off diarrhea and recover quickly. A group of researchers conducted a research in Brazil. According to the research, young infants who are not breastfed have a risk 25 times greater of dying from diarrhea than those who are exclusively breastfed. 


If your baby is eating solid foods, you can give him or her the following foods:

You should avoid the following foods:

  • Fruit juice 
  • Fried foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Nuts 
  • Foods that are high in fiber.
  • Sweets , cakes etc. 

Oral Rehydration Solution:

When it comes to dehydration, doctors may also recommend an oral rehydration solution. Pedialyte and ORsaline-N are popular rehydration products and they help to replace the water and salt lost during diarrhea. 


Our son had diarrhea in the 11th month. At that time, our baby was teething. He used to put everything in his mouth and it caused diarrhea. He was passing loose stools 4-5 times every day for a week. There was also mucus in his stool. But there was no sign of dehydration and he was physically active. However, we found that the diarrhea occurred due to bacterial infection. I gave him Probio capsule and it really worked well in curing his diarrhea. Probio capsule is a supplement that is made up of good bacteria. This good bacteria fights off bad bacteria and keeps babies heathy. I also gave him an antibiotic medicine and our son recovered well after a few days. Doctors may also prescribe zinc supplements in treating diarrhea. 

Remember that you should only give your child medicine if your doctor recommends it.

In most of the cases, diarrhea goes on its own. But visit the doctor if you see the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Lots of vomiting 
  • Blood in stools
  • Belly pain
  • Other signs of dehydration.


How to prevent diarrhea?

➯ Rotavirus vaccine:

Rotavirus is a virus which causes diarrhea in infants and toddlers. You can give a rotavirus vaccine to your little one to protect him or her from this virus. The Travellers’ Clinic at icddr,b offers rotavirus vaccinations in Bangladesh. It should be given to infants between the ages of 6 to 32 weeks (Rotarix | Indications, Pharmacology, Dosage, Side Effects and more). It is a 3-dose series and the first dose should be given between  6 and 12 weeks of age.

Access to safe drinking water

Change diaper frequently:

Diarrhea is contagious. Keep your little one’s diaper area neat and clean. Change your baby’s diaper often. Wash your hands after you change the diaper to prevent the spread of germs.

Maintain good hygiene:

Always wash your hands before you prepare foods for your baby. You should always rinse fruits and vegetables properly. Make your bedroom neat and clean.

Clean baby toys:

Babies may put toys and other stuff in their mouth and it may lead to diarrhea. So, never forget to clean them regularly.

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