How do I know if my baby has diarrhoea?

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All mothers, at one time or the other, have been worried if their baby has diarrhoea. They ponder about how healthy baby poop should look like. Fair enough, baby’s poop may seem very different from an adult’s. Another fact is that baby’s poop is prone to changes. Constant changes. For instance, the frequency of the baby’s poop may vary, and the colour may change. So it is quite understandable why some mothers may find it difficult to discern which of their baby’s poop is perfectly normal and which raises concern for diarrhoea. Well, one important thing to note is that diarrhoea in babies has accompanying symptoms that could indicate that your doctor’s attention is needed.

How do I know if my baby has diarrhoea?

How do I know if my breastfed baby has diarrhoea?

Babies’ poop is known to be of soft texture. It should not be a reason for your worries or concerns. If your baby is exclusively breastfed, then you should expect soft poop. Breastfed babies’ poop can vary remarkably. Some babies have bowel movements after every meal. The colour of the poop may be consistent light yellow and slightly loose. This does not indicate any issues. 

All mothers, at one time or the other, have been worried if their baby has diarrhoea. They ponder about how healthy baby poop should look like. Fair enough, baby’s poop may seem very different from an adult’s. Another fact is that baby’s poop is prone to changes. Constant changes. For instance, the frequency of the baby’s poop may vary, and the colour may change. So it is quite understandable why some mothers may find it difficult to discern which of their baby’s poop is perfectly normal and which raises concern for diarrhoea. Well, one important thing to note is that diarrhoea in babies has accompanying symptoms that could indicate that your doctor’s attention is needed.

How do I know if my breastfed baby has diarrhoea?

Read: How do I know if my baby has diarrhoea or poop

Babies’ poop is known to be of soft texture. It should not be a reason for your worries or concerns. If your baby is exclusively breastfed, then you should expect soft poop. Breastfed babies’ poop can vary remarkably. Some babies have bowel movements after every meal. The colour of the poop may be consistent light yellow and slightly loose. This does not indicate any issues. 

Diarrhoea is not just liquidy or runny bowel movement in babies. Diarrhoea occurs in high frequency or high volume. 

You will recognise diarrhoea from the sudden change from the way your baby poops. For instance, your baby may have bowel movements more than usual, and his poop will look very watery. Your baby may be fussy or highly irritable and lack the appetite to eat. 

Severe diarrhoea in babies should not be taken lightly; it can increase the risk of dehydration. It occurs when the baby loses too much fluid. Dehydration can be adverse and life-threatening for babies. 

Here are signs of dehydration in babies:

  • Infrequent urination or dry diapers
  • General weakness or lethargy
  • Dry tears
  • Sunken eyes or fontanelles
  • Fussiness
  • Inelastic skin

What are the causes of diarrhoea in babies?

Infections

Bacterial, viral or parasitic infections can cause diarrhoea in babies. For instance, viruses like Rotavirus or Norwalk can cause severe diarrhoea in babies. Bacteria like Salmonella and Escherichia coli can irritate the baby’s gastrointestinal system, causing green or brown poop, fever and vomiting in babies. 

Food intolerance/ sensitivity

Although whatever the mother eats will not cause a problem in most breastfed babies, some babies develop food intolerance. Babies have difficulty digesting certain foods causing unpleasant symptoms such as irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea and rashes. 

A common food item which seems to trigger food intolerance is cow milk. Others are egg, peanut and wheat.

Teething

Teething is the stage where babies start generating teeth. Excessive salivation during this period can irritate the intestinal lining, creating loose poop. 

Weaning

Mild diarrhoea is normal during the time babies are introduced to solid food. It is why paediatricians emphasized on the fact that weaning foods should be easily digestible for the baby, clean and not too spicy. During the period of weaning, babies are said to be increasingly vulnerable to infection because of their delicate immune system.

How do you help a baby with diarrhoea

You must follow your doctor’s advice, which may include the following:

  • Feed your baby frequently. Continue feeding as normal or as advised by your doctor. Let your baby eat to his satisfaction. Consult with your doctor if you should give your baby an oral rehydration solution. Do not give your baby any drugs without a doctor’s prescription. 
  • Suppose your baby has diarrhoea as a result of food allergy, sensitivity or intolerance, you can do a food elimination diet if you are still nursing. 
  • Diarrhoea can cause inflammation on your baby’s skin. This is commonly referred to as diaper rash. You can prevent this from occurring by using soft baby wipes instead of washcloths. Use diaper cream containing zinc, or Vaseline to soothe your baby’s skin. Make sure you wash your baby’s buttock after every watery bowel movement. If the diaper rash does not go away after a few days, consult your doctor.
  • Ensure you properly wash your hand after you change your baby’s diaper. Diarrhoea is highly contagious. You can also disinfect your baby’s changing area. 

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