When should I worry about baby diarrhoea?

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Sometimes, your baby may pass watery poop. It is nothing to worry about, especially if he is exclusively breastfed. Since every baby is unique, then it suffices to say that babies’ bowel movement and habits vary tremendously. Some breastfed babies are known to have bowel movements after every meal, and others may not poop for days – this also should not cause you to worry.

If your baby is under infant formula regiment, you will notice that he may have bowel movements between three times daily to four times weekly. This situation is also normal.

As a parent, you have the privilege of understanding your baby intricately. If you notice he is passing stools in more frequency than he normally does, or his poop is more liquidy or loose than it should look, then it may be a symptom of diarrhoea. For babies who have already started the process of weaning, passing watery stools up to four or five times daily is a symptom of diarrhoea.

You should note that diarrhoea can develop into dehydration, and in some cases, should not be taken lightly. Your baby has to be hydrated and given fluid whenever he is diagnosed to have diarrhoea. According to the Center for Disease Control, Diarrhoea is responsible for more than 500,000 deaths of children under the age of five every year.

When should I worry about baby diarrhoea?

When diarrhoea poses a danger to your baby

Read: What can I give my baby to stop diarrhoea

So you may ask ‘when should I be worried about my baby’s diarrhoea’

The answer is if it does go away for a month (even if it occurs occasionally). Infant diarrhoea, which is characterised by runny poop in increased frequency, is considered mild when it goes away in less than three days without treatment. 

Chronic diarrhoea in an infant is dangerous. It can dehydrate the baby. Babies can quickly become dehydrated because of diarrhoea. Diarrhoea has a way of draining essential electrolytes and other fluids your baby needs for proper bodily function. Electrolytes are necessary for our cells and muscles to function. They hydrate the body while ensuring maintaining the correct acid levels in the blood and fixing tissues that are damaged. 

Seek urgent medical attention when your baby has high-grade fever and diarrhoea. Diarrhoea tends to cause damage to the baby’s organs.

In developing countries, diarrhoea is known to be the leading cause of infant death. Poor sanitary conditions and unclean water contribute to the rise of diarrhoea in babies. According to studies published in the Pan African Medical Journal, Babies who live in Africa suffer from at least five diarrhoea episodes before the age of one, leading to malnutrition. 

Dehydration in babies

Read: How do I know if my baby has diarrhoea?

If your baby has diarrhoea, it is crucial you lookout for early signs of dehydration. Dehydration is a potentially fatal illness, leading to poor growth and in some cases, death. Dehydration in babies happens when they have lost so much fluid due to diarrhoea or vomiting. 

Babies are very vulnerable to dehydration because:

  • They have a very high rate of metabolism. Babies’ bodies utilise more water quickly than adults.
  • Babies’ kidney does not store water effectively until when they are older.
  • Babies have an immature immune system, which is unable to combat infections that may cause several illnesses.
  • Babies usually lose appetite when they are sick.
  • Their body is composed mainly of water. 

Signs of early onset of dehydration in babies include: 

  • Rapid reddening of the face
  • Polydipsia or excessive thirst
  • hot and dry skin
  • Dry diapers
  • Restlessness or fussiness
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Dry mucus
  • Sunken eyes
  • Sunken baby’s fontanelles
  • Dry tears

Symptoms of severe dehydration in babies include:

  • Convulsion
  • High fever
  • Bloated stomach
  • Weak pulse
  • Rapid breathing
  • Diminished consciousness

If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Read: When should babies poop become solid

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