A guide for parents and caregivers on diarrhea

What is diarrhea?

Diarrhea is loose, watery stool that is often accompanied by stomach pain. This condition is widespread in children and is usually short-lived, with symptoms lasting no more than a few days.

What you need to know

Loose stools can be caused by various underlying factors, including stomach bugs, parasites (e.g., giardia), and certain foods not agreeing with your little one’s tummy. Diarrhea can also be a symptom of non-intestinal issues such as a respiratory virus or an ear infection. Some children can also experience diarrhea when teething!

While the condition can be worrisome, diarrhea often resolves on its own. If your child is well hydrated, you may not have anything to worry about. You can tell your child is well hydrated by using the following criteria:

  • More than five wet diapers in 24 hours for a child under 1-year-old

  • More than four wet diapers in 24 hours for a child 1-2 years old

  • More than three voids in 24 hours for a child 2 years and older

In this situation, you’re generally okay to wait for your child’s tummy and digestive tract to heal on their own.

How you can help

If your child’s diarrhea is more frequent than the criteria above, one of the best things to do is to increase fluid intake. The best fluid to help with hydration is Pedialyte, which is available over the counter and can be found at most drug and grocery stores.

Other options for oral rehydration include:

  • Popsicles (regular or made with Pedialyte)

  • Apple juice diluted with water (half and half)

  • Jell-O

A probiotic can also help children with diarrhea. We highly recommend Culturelle and Florastor for kids.

When to contact your doctor

In some instances, diarrhea requires medical attention. If your child isn’t meeting the above criteria, has dry lips or dry mouth, or if diarrhea contains blood, they need to be seen by a doctor the same day.

If your child is severely dehydrated, lethargic or not responding, or if diarrhea consists of mostly blood, seek medical attention immediately at your local ER.

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