Diarrhea and Dehydration

Diarrhea is defined as both a significant increase in frequency and looseness of the stools. The biggest concern with diarrhea is the hydration status of the child. Signs of dehydration include dry skin and the inability of the skin to snap back after pinching, dry lips and mouth, limited or no tears, and limited or no urine output.

Treatment usually consists of dietary changes only. If the diarrhea is mild with only a few loose stools, such as with teething, no change is necessary.

For breast fed babies, continue to nurse through the diarrhea.

For formula fed babies with frequent watery diarrhea, take the baby off of milk/formula for 12-24 hours and offer small, frequent sips of Pedialyte or G2 Gatorade. Over the next 24 hours, advance the diet to 1/2 strength formula (for concentrate mix 1 can of formula with 2 cans of water instead of the usual 1:1 mixture. For powder, mix 1 scoop with 4 ounces of water instead of the usual 1 scoop to 2 ounces of water ratio). Do not continue the 1/2 strength formula for more than 24 hours without notifying the office. Advance the diet to full-strength formula over the next day. Pedialyte and G2 Gatorade can continue to be offered frequently between feedings.

Do not give fruit juices during diarrhea episodes as this will increase the child's diarrhea. Eliminate all dairy products during the illness.

For older infants on solids, toddlers, and young children, we recommend the BRAT diet. (bananas, rice or rice cereal, applesauce and toast or other starchy foods)

Over-the-counter products like Kaopectate, Diasorb, or Immodium should not be given without an office visit or discussion with the office first.

Adult Pepto-Bismol should never be given. This product contains aspirin.