Babies and diarrhea

Alternative Names

Diarrhea and babies


Normal or healthy baby stools are soft and loose. Babies have frequent stools during the first 1 - 2 months. Because of this, it may be difficult to tell when your baby has diarrhea.

Most babies have a stool pattern that is typical for them. This pattern may change slowly over time. Look for the following to help decide whether your baby has diarrhea:

If your baby is feeding poorly, or has nasal congestion or a fever, the changes you notice are more likely to be diarrhea.

Most diarrhea in children is short-lived. It is usually caused by a virus, and goes away on its own. Other causes of diarrhea include:

Infants and young children (under age 3) can dehydrate quickly, so they should be watched very carefully. Dehydration means that the body does not have enough water or liquids.

Signs of mild dehydration:

Signs of moderate dehydration:

Signs of severe dehydration:


Make sure the child gets plenty of liquids.

Talk to your pediatrician right away if there are signs of dehydration. If the infant develops signs of moderate or severe dehydration, he or she should be seen right away.

The following can help prevent diaper rash:

Cut down on baby wipes during diarrhea.

Call your pediatritian if:


Canavan A, Arant BS Jr. Diagnosis and management of dehydration in children. Am Fam Physician. 2009;80:692-696.

Review Date: 11/7/2011
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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