Diarrhea and Infants

The central concern with diarrhea and infants is the possibility of dehydration from loss of body fluids. Treatment is aimed at preventing dehydration.

Question

Dr. Greene, my baby has been having 4 runny poops each day for the last 5 days (she normally goes once a day). Is this diarrhea? How do you tell diarrhea in a baby? If it is, what should I do?
Bob – Walnut Creek, California

Dr. Greene's Answer

Normal baby stool can look a lot like an adult’s diarrheal stool. Healthy baby poop is often soft and runny, and (especially in the first month) quite frequent. One 2-week-old with 10 runny stools a day may be perfectly healthy, while another 4-month-old with 3 stools a day, all firmer than the other baby’s, may have diarrhea. So how can a parent tell if their child’s stool is normal or considered diarrhea?

Look for a sudden increase in the frequency of the stools. Each baby has her own stool frequency pattern that changes slowly over time. If it changes noticeably within only a few days, she may have diarrhea. Any baby who has more than one stool per feeding should also be suspected of having diarrhea, even if this isn’t a sudden change. Also look for a sudden increase in the water content of the stool. Other signs of illness in your baby, such as poor feeding, a newly congested nose or a new fever, make the diagnosis of diarrhea more likely.

What Causes Diarrhea in Babies?

Diarrhea in babies can be caused by a change in diet (including, sometimes, a change in mother’s diet if the baby is breast-fed), by infection, by antibiotic use, or by a number of rare diseases. Each year there are about one billion cases of diarrhea in children worldwide. In most cases (more than 990 million of them) the diarrhea will resolve by itself within a week or so. Still, more than 3 million young children die each year from diarrhea (about 400-500 in the United States).

Treating Diarrhea in Babies

The central concern with diarrhea is the possibility of dehydration from loss of body fluids. Treatment is aimed at preventing dehydration, the real culprit. Most children with diarrhea can be treated safely at home.

If your baby is breast-fed, don’t stop. Breast feeding helps prevent diarrhea (making diarrhea only half as likely); it also speeds recovery and helps prevent hospitalization (Journal of Pediatrics, May 1996; Pediatrics, April 2007). If your baby still seems thirsty after or between nursing sessions, you can supplement with an oral rehydration solution (Pedialyte is the most well known, but other brands are also effective. Children in my practice seem to prefer the taste of grape-flavored KaoLectrolyte — chilled). Do not try to make your own electrolyte solution at home, as the commercially available solutions are specially formulated to meet your baby’s electrolyte needs.

If your baby is formula-fed, you might want to switch to a soy-based formula while the diarrhea lasts. A soy formula containing fiber, such as Isomil DF, can be tried if your baby is at least 6 months old and may potentially be more effective at slowing down the stools (Clinical Pediatrics, March 1997; Pediatrics, January 1998). Do not dilute the formula. As with breast-fed babies, supplementation with an oral rehydration solution can help replenish the fluids and electrolytes that have been lost in the diarrheal stools.

If your baby is already big enough to be taking solid foods, then carrots, rice cereal, bananas, potatoes, and applesauce can help slow down the stools. Avoid fruit juices, peas, pears, peaches, plums, prunes and apricots until the stools are back to normal, which should be within a week or so.

What if it Lasts “Too” Long?

If the diarrhea lasts longer than a week, or is accompanied by more than 72 hours of fever, get in touch with your pediatrician. Contact your pediatrician right away, however, if your baby won’t drink or appears to be getting dehydrated (dry mouth, crying without tears, sunken soft spot, lethargic, or going 8 hours without producing urine) or if your baby is under 3 months and has diarrhea with a fever. Vomiting for 24 hours, 8 stools in 8 hours, or the presence of blood, mucus, or pus in the stool should also prompt a call to your pediatrician.

So far we’ve been talking about poop. One final thought —

Don’t forget your baby’s bottom. Stool normally contains some of the enzymes that help us digest our food. When stool travels through the intestines more quickly, not only is there more poop, but the poop contains more of these enzymes, which can then start to “digest” the soft skin of your baby’s bottom. Frequent diaper changes, rinsing the bottom with water, air drying, and protective ointments and creams, such as Desitin, can be a real help. Cut down on baby wipes during diarrhea.

 

During diarrhea, most parents are focused on the frequent, runny poops. Most doctors are focused on the possibility of dehydration. From your baby’s point of view, however, the burning irritation of the diaper rash may be the most pressing issue.

Did you find this article helpful? Still need more information? Let us know in the comments below.

Last medical review on: January 13, 2015
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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Recent Comments

Please help me my baby has runny stool

Jigme,

Thanks for writing in.

Is your baby breastfed or drinking formula or both?

Best, @MsGreene
Note: I am the co-founder of DrGreene.com, but I am not Dr. Greene and I am not a doctor. Please keep that in mind when reading my comments and replies.

Hi there my baby from 3 month come from hospital and use antibotika med and her poo is like water is that normal wensday she did come home plss help

Hi Natasha,

It is important to tell the doctor who prescribed the antibiotics that the antibiotics are impacting your baby’s digestive system. Your baby’s doctor should factor this in when deciding to keep your baby on antibiotics, to change to a different antibiotic, to add probiotics or to stop altogether.

I hope that helps.
Best, @MsGreene
Note: I am the co-founder of DrGreene.com, but I am not Dr. Greene and I am not a doctor. Please keep that in mind when reading my comments and replies.

Dr Green my son is 2 and half month old and breastfeeding he’s been popping for the last four days, his poop is green sometimes mustard yellow,mucus

Should I be worried if yes, what can I give him

Regards

Philly.

Hai Dr Greene my 3 1/2 old month son is on nan ha 1 he poops green and the amount of poop is very little we tried changing the formula but he is having rashes with other formula please reply

I’m having the same problem now

Hi Dr. Green
my 2 month old 3 weeks baby is suffering from diarrhea. He poops 7 or 8 times a days and has a few rashes.
Dr. had recommended switching formula and which we did switch 3 time and it still not stopped the diarrhea. please help, I so.worry.

My son is 12 months and has had general diarrhea for almost 2 months. Sometimes he would poo regularly so I always figured it was normal cause his body was getting used to solid foods… However, he was slowly but surely getting dehydrated because I haven’t offered enough fluids besides milk. I tried sips of water through out the day, but we all know its hard to get kids to drink water! I am now working to rehydrate him with Pedialyte solution through out the day and unflavored version added to his bottles.

Good day Dr.

Hope you are well.

My son is now four and a half weeks old. over the past week his poo’s have increased to maybe 3 or four times a day and sometimes right after i feed him. He is breastfed but doesnt want to feed as often and seems tired a lot of the time.

He seems happy, giggling and talking but Im concerned it may be diarrhoea? He had his weigh in yesterday and has only gained 400g since his 14 week check up. Should i be concerned? What should i do?

My babygirl is three weeks now and poops more than five times a day after breastfeeding I gave her flagil suspension syrop and she is loosing weight please what can I do

my 18 months old niece has diarrhea two times in the morning for five days now, should I be worried. She has no fever

My son is 6 months he had cold and cough from 1 week and same time he started loose poop with foul smelling and yellow seedy in color almost every 3 to 4 hours. I went to doctor , she said it is normal , loose poop because mucous is in poop. I am worried how long it last?

My baby also has the same problem.what should i do??

My son of 6 weeks Stooled 6times a day, after each feed. Is it normal.
I give formulae and also breast feed.
In the process he runs temprature.
But after feeding him the temperature comes down.
What could be the problem?

please I’m interested in this. I have almost same issue with my 8 months baby.

My son is 2 months & two weeks old poop every after feed for 1 week now(breast feeding and formula) .No fever ,no vomiting,no dehydration .
His poop is sometime green sometime yellow.Running with flakes sometime .He is active

Is this something I have worry for please help !!

My 5 month old baby boy is suffeeing frm diarreah since 15 days i hv consulted doc but still having what should i do m very afraid….plx hlp me…

Hi dr my 10 month old baby is having diarrhea for the past 2 days and she’s been going at least three times less than 30 minutes within the two days and I took her to the hospital and all they did was tell me to give her Pedialyte and I was wondering if there is anything else I can do or should I take her back to the hospital because she is also been vomiting

My baby go to stool for 4 times from last 13hours and now she is active is there any problem you my baby go to many times stool.

My 2 1/2 month old baby was diagnosed with rotavirus about 2 weeks but has had diarrhea for the past 4 weeks. She eats and sleeps and there is no signs of dehydration. How long will the diarrhea last and is there something I can do to make it stop sooner?

I’m also going through the same thing. My daughter has been having running stooling since she turned 6 weeks now she is 14 weeks.her temperature is normal,she is not dehydrated and sleeps fine.but I’m worried. What can I do to stop the running stool

Want to know so someone get back with you an k it this because I’m goin thru the same thing

can a baby of 1week take rehydration salt to stop her stool

Doctor,

My baby is 2 years old and since last 4 days she is pooing 4 times a day which is not normal. She used to pop once a day only. She has got running nose too. Please inform me is there something I need to worry?

My 8 mth old baby has diarrhea for 11 days. Brought her to see 3 different doctors and was recommended soy milk. After drinking the soy milk 4 to 5 times a day her diarrhea stopped and it became constipation. Today is the 3rd day of her constipation and doc ask to change back to her formula gradually. So far i hv not seen any changes yet as my daughter could not even poop today. Just a question knowing that soy milk is heaty, why cant i change drastically to her for previous formula and why does it has to do gradually?

Hi dr my baby is 5 month old he has a dearrhea it’s not actually much but so often 4to 5 times a day sometimes green sometimes yellow I’m only breastfeeding after the breastfeed is when he pop is that normal doc plz need ur help

I’m also experiencing this from my 4months old daughter

My baby 5 1/2 months old ,5 times poop in a day not watery it’s dark grey color..is it normal?

Hi Dr my son is 4 and half months old had cold n cough after medication he is bit better buy started to poop 3times a day for the last 2dys where as normally he poops once a week, his poop is watery yellowish green plz suggest wot Sud I do

Sir, my 5 1/2 months baby boy has a problem of loose stools seven times daily from last two months, it look like jelly.. not water poo.. Mostly doctors told us that its a infection, no water problem..it will be ok after sometime.. He has also having new teeth.. Pls suggest, worried lot

my baby is 5 months old and past few days started pooing 3-4 times a day. sometimes its runny and sometimes its a kind of paste. what it could be? Diarreha??? please respond asap

My baby is 16 month old..n she poos 4times in a day..sometimes it looks fully watery n some times it looks loose ,soft n yellow n a large quantity bt not so watery .n sometimes its good..she is having poo like this 4 days long..m really tensed about it.m allready giving her selaine..bt i want to knw is it normal or she have a problm..?

My baby normally poops two times a day and with hard poop but since last 5 days scenario is diff. First 2 days he passes 3- 4 times semi solid then 5 day bit watery i rush to docter she give entrogermina as medicine inam ging that since last 4 days but whenever i feed my baby he pass poop after sometime . Poop is sometime seni solid sometimes watery and sometime soft solid and whisks.
Is this diarrhea and how many days it will take to get fine coz my babynfeelimg weak. Please advice.

Hi.. My baby is also facing the same symptoms as quoted by you. Can you please tell me what you did. My doctor says it is transitional Diarrhoea and will cure on its own.Please suggest. Its been 4 days.

This was very helpful as I was really worried. I will just rush to get some ORS for my son

My baby boy is 3 months old and he has been having diarrhea for going on six days now. He has been pooping before and after eating and I am thinking that maybe he is having an intolerance to the lactose in his formula now because my daughter did the same thing around the same age. Please tell me what it could possibly be, cause his doctor said it’s just a virus and it should pass within 2-3 days, well it hasn’t.

This was very helpful my 4 month old son has had this going on for a few days now. And he has the rash too besides the cream is there anything else I can do for the rash

Cornstarch! I have been using Desitin plus cornstarch and it has been amazing on my 6 month olds bottom

Hello
My baby is 7 months, he has been unwell since sat, from monday onwards he has been doing poos every 2-3 hours, night & day, it isn’t much each time but is very smelly. it is very difficult to get food & bottle into him but are doing our best. What could be going on?

My 4 month old has bad diarrhea and dont know what to do. When my daughter was 10 months she had the same thing but it lasted almost 5 weeks. Well it ended up being rotavirus.
Anyhow theres a 13 year difference between them so i feel like a new mom again. What could this be? His temp is 100.3 rectal and hes eating fine. He has been fussy but otherwise fine

My four-month old baby has the same problem. How did you resolve yours?

Hello my 4 day old has bad diarrhea and diaper rash. I’m applying ointment after each changing. Not sure of the cause and getting a little worried.

Hi Dr Greene , my son is 10 months old he started 10/7 with 1 very pasty stool Sunday he had 2 as the week continued the stool got loser and had mucus. I was breastfeeding him and supplementing with formula he also had a mild cold and seemed to be teething. Pediatrician told me to stop nursing and told me it was viral but now it’s been 12 days he has been eating ricé malanga and still no solid stool. I’m concerned that something else may be going on since his stool has not returned to normal

Hi Dr. Green my baby is 9 months old .She has been having runny stools and there is some mucus. some times her stool is green color. she intake any milk suffer by vomiting, diarrhea and she is not asleep well. know she is 9.5 kg

Hi everyone my baby is 1 month and 6days old she will do little amount of poops nearly 30 times per day she is totally on breast feed we have shown her to neonatologist they did not found any thing negative becoz she is gaining weight doc asked us to wait till she turn 2months but still I am concerned can any one tell is it normal?

My baby is 4 months had an major operation at the age of six days regarding intestine malrotation and resected major portion of her intestine.she was hospitalised 3 months including 1.5 month tpn.after discharge from hospital she used to poop 2-3 times.sometimes poop 4 to 5 times a day.is there any problems. She is taking neocate lcp along with breastfed.

Dear Dr. My baby 4.5 months.. This pass a week he poop out 10-12 times in a day.. The color of stool is normal yellow with little mucus. Is this normal? How often baby can poops out in a day? Please help me to advise how to stop this is there any issue on this kind of abnormal pooping, please thanks

My baby started to poop at least 4 times a day a few days ago and I am quite alarmed because it smells sour. I also noticed she poops after feeding. Is this normal or should I call her doctor by now?

Sofia, the normal number of poops per day depends on how old a baby is and what they are eating/drinking. Four times a day can be perfectly normal for a 4 week old breastfed infant, and may be a lot for an 8 month old baby taking solids. Sour smells can come from several things including a change in diet or a mild GI virus. When there is an abrupt change in the stool that lasts for several days – and someone has access to a doctor – it can be nice to let them know.

My 4 months old poops about 7 times day , poop is green and slimy for 10 days now. He has no fever, no rashes, took him to emergency, doctor was not concerned because he is having 10 wet diapers with urine is over weight for age. Baby is 21 pounds and is happy. Took him next day for his four months visit but ped is still not concerned about the poop. Baby has been pooping once a day or once every other day since he was a month old. But this frequent poops really bothers me, especially the color. I do both breastfeeding and formula. Any help please.

Hi, we r having the same issue with our baby exactly same age. But our ones poop more than 12 times a day. Whats the progress there ?

my two months baby start with a diarrhea friday and we giving him pedialyte and his formula from he start with the diarrhea yellow runny poo so we too him to the doctor and they gave us medication for five day because she say it’s a virus. but now my baby start with a dark green boo watery poo i don’t know what it is.could you please help me.

Hi Dr

My 4 month old is on formula and has been since she’s been about 12 weeks old. Her poops on the formula were once a day and peanut butter like and green. Then one day about 10days ago, she pooped three times in that day still the same consistency, and from that point on she started pooping atleast 4-6times a day and now they are yellow, pasty, curdled, and mucus like. Sometimes they have just stained the diaper and not been curdled at all.
She did have her shots last Wednesday but this all started the Thursday before that. The day after her shots she got a fever but it was gone by thher next day. She is went through a period of not eating a whole bunch maybe 15oz a day but she is now back up to 20-24 a day

Part of me thinks th poops should of changed by now. Should I be concerned about this. She is still pooping atleast 4times a day. If you could provide your feedback that would be most helpful

Hallo Dr., my baby just turned 3months, his poo has been runny for the past 3 days although frequency is still the same, today he didn’t feed as much as he usually does, I breast feed and he is on formula coz I work, I’m a bit worried, he doesn’t have a fever or cry, he is generally a very happy baby

we have the same issue and i want to know if this kind of situation is normal?

Hello doc, My 15 months old baby boy have been stooling 4 to 6 times daily for the past 3 weeks.

Hello doc, my 6month old baby had pooped more than 10times in 12hours greenish mucus….. after every feeding… I haven’t stopped breastfeeding and I have administered ORS, am worried, what do I do? it’s being 15hours now since it started.

I await your response

thanks

My 6 month old has been with diareah for 5 days. It’s mucous and smells like rotten fish. He has about 11 diaper changes per day. He goes in and out of lethargic moments, Should I take him to the hospital

My baby 4.5 months.. This pass a week he poop out 4-5 times in a day.. The color of stool is normal yellow with little mucus. Is this normal? How often baby can poops out in a day?

Is that frequent poop can effect baby weight gain?

My son is truning 5 months exactly today.His normal poop usually use to be thick n normal like adult but this few days he’s been popping this green liquidy poop and more often like 2-3 times a day but less quantity.What should i do

My baby is 3 months and 18 days old. for the last two weeks and 3 days she has been having a diarrhea. mucus kind of poops whenever i breast feed her of bottle feed her.. she has no fever and she is active. when she started i took her to hospital and she was given curamol and colic drops and were not helpful.. am getting worried. what should i do or what might be the cause? please advice

Hey doc my baby finish 4mnths yesterday n I have notice my baby poop more than 6times within the last two days n it has been runny poop . Every time I fed her she poop like 5mins after wht could be the cause

My baby is 5 months and 10 days old. It has diahrrea and short sleep. It doesnt want to sleep.It cries. What shall I do? Thank you.Dr..

My baby is 3 months old and we put him on cow and gate colic and constipation formula about 3-4 weeks ago and as of 2 days ago he is suddenly pooing about 7 times a day and it’s like water and smells odd.
What could be the issue? He’s been fine on the formula until now.

My 8 month old is cutting 5 teeth right now. Eats and drinks daily. No fever. No symptoms of sickness but has about 4 to 5 diarrhea diapers daily x1 1/2 weeks now. What could be causing this?

Hi doctor,
My baby is 8 month old.last 4 days she passed watery greenish & yellow poops with some white particles. She passed 3 times daily .is
this diarrhoea? But
She is active, playing well and she also a breastfeeding baby.is this any infection

Hi Doctor,
My baby is 5 months old, she just started vomiting and increased watery poops about 3 times today. She’s also running temperature and finding it difficult to sleep. Please what can be the cause and solution. Thank you.