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All you need to know about infant diarrhoea

"Like it or not, your baby will suffer from diarrhoea at some point as their bodies are still getting used to the process of digestion" said Dr Nitin M, Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist, Electronic City, Motherhood Hospitals, Bangalore.

By: Parenting Desk | New Delhi |
February 10, 2022 7:59:11 pm
parenting-pexelsHere’s what you should know about diarrhoea in infants. (Representative Image/Pexels)

By Dr Nitin M

Diarrhoea is the most common health issue among children, which can be dangerous. Newborns, especially, are more prone to loose, watery and soft stools. It is not easy to know whether your newborn has diarrhoea or is it just normal poop!

Like it or not, your baby will suffer from diarrhoea at some point as their bodies are still getting used to the process of digestion. Here’s what you should know about diarrhoea in infants, what it looks like, its symptoms, treatment and when it can become an emergency.

Regular Poop v/s Baby Diarrhoea

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Babies can develop diarrhoea due to several reasons, other than the type of feeding. (Representative Image/Pexels)

Typical baby poop might vary in colours and consistency. Baby poop is usually softer and watery than adults, and it won’t always be diarrhoea. A regular poop will be runny, has thick-like paste, is soft and can look yellow, brown. New-borns also have more bowel movements in a single day. So, by looking at the diaper, you can easily make out whether it’s diarrhoea or not.

If your infant is suffering from diarrhoea, you will notice the following signs and symptoms:

  • Greener in colour or darker than normal
  • More loose or watery
  • Foul smell
  • Blood or mucus in poop
  • Very runny and larger
  • Leaking out of diapers more frequently

Baby poop can also depend on what you feed them. Your baby’s poop will differ in colour, texture and consistency if they are breastfed or formula-fed. If you breastfeed your baby, their poop will be more yellowish, soft and squishy. The frequency might be more in a day, which makes it harder to know whether it is normal or not. Also, if the poop has seeds or small curds, you do not have to worry.

On the other hand, if you are feeding your baby formula partly or completely, their bowel movements will look different. The colour of the poop will be brownish or tan, and it will look more firm than watery. It will also be much thicker, which will make it easy to identify if your baby is suffering from diarrhoea or not.

Causes of baby diarrhoea

Babies can develop diarrhoea due to several reasons, other than the type of feeding. Some of the general causes are:

*Changes in a baby’s diet can cause changes in bowel movements. Foods like eggs, peanuts, dairy products can cause allergies.

*Medications or antibiotics taken by the baby or the mother can trigger diarrhoea.

*If you are travelling, your baby is at a higher risk of developing illnesses.

*Bacterial, virus or parasite infections can cause diarrhoea among babies as they can catch germs way too quickly.

*Babies who are teething are more prone to diarrhoea as they put things in their mouths and expose themselves to germs.

Can diarrhoea cause dehydration?

Diarrhoea among babies can cause dehydration due to loss of water. There can be some serious side effects as babies can get dehydrated very quickly, which can be dangerous. Look for the following signs and symptoms of water loss or dehydration:

  • Lethargic
  • Irritability and fussiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Peeing less often
  • Crying without tears
  • Dry diaper for around 6 – 8 hours
  • Sleepiness
  • Not feeding much

If you notice any of these signs, consult your baby’s doctor immediately.

Treatment of infant diarrhoea

Make sure you keep your baby hydrated during this time and continue feeding them. In many cases, infant diarrhoea may not require medical attention and will get better eventually. Try to change your baby’s diapers more often to prevent diaper rash. Breastfeeding mothers must make changes in their diet as some foods can trigger diarrhoea.

If your baby is showing signs and symptoms of dehydration, you might need to go to a hospital where the baby will get fluids through an IV. If you feed your baby some solid foods, give them food that might soothe diarrhoea like strained bananas, crackers, etc.

If your infant is suffering from fever, weight loss, frequent vomiting, stomach pain, watery poops more than 6 – 10 times a day or has blood or mucus in poop, you should call your baby’s doctor immediately for further treatment.

(The writer is Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist, Electronic City, Motherhood Hospitals, Bangalore.)

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