Diarrhea is a common problem in children. It is usually mild and lasts for a short time. It can be harmful because of the danger of dehydration.
Every child has a different pattern of bowel movements, so it is sometimes hard to tell if a child has diarrhea or just loose bowel movements.
It is diarrhea if your child has either of the following:
Sometimes diarrhea can be severe, especially in very young children. A child with diarrhea may feel sick to the stomach and not want to eat. The child may also have a fever, stomach pains or cramps. There can be blood or mucus in the bowel movements.
Diarrhea can be harmful to your child because of the danger of dehydration. Dehydration occurs when too much fluid is lost from the body. Watch for Signs of Dehydration.
Children with diarrhea must drink enough fluids so they don’t become dehydrated.
Talk to your doctor or Public Health Nurse if you have any questions about what to feed a child with diarrhea.
Oral rehydration solutions are exact mixtures of water, salts and sugar. They help replace lost fluids. These solutions can be absorbed even when your child is vomiting. They come in different flavours. You can buy a ready-to-use liquid, a powder that must be mixed with water, and frozen popsicles. Offer small amounts often, using a spoon or dropper for infants. Do not use oral rehydration solutions as the sole source of fluid for more than 12-24 hours.
Sports drinks, such as Gatorade™ contain more sugar than a child needs and may make diarrhea worse.
If you have any questions about oral rehydration solutions, talk to your doctor. Do not give your child any medicine unless your doctor suggests it.
Call your doctor if your child has diarrhea and is any of the following:
Sometimes diarrhea is caused by bacteria and can be treated with antibiotics.
Especially from child to child through contact with feces, contaminated surfaces or in food or water. To stop the spread, wash your hands and the child’s hands carefully after every diaper change. Make sure that children wash their hands after using the toilet. Wash hands often and always before preparing or eating food.
Follow the cleaning & sanitizing guidelines.
Print the 2-page fact sheet as featured in the guide book, Sneezes & Diseases: A Resource Book for Caregivers & Parents.