DateApril 23, 2014
commentNo comment by Author, Razvan Stancea
Infant Diarrhea: Avoidance, Prevention, and Care

Most of us don’t discuss our bowel movements with our family and friends. But when you’re a parent, it can often be the #1 topic of discussion. New parents constantly think of their babies – what they’re doing, how they’re sleeping, and what they’re eating. Because infants cannot tell us why they’re crying, it’s up to their parents to figure it out, so that their child’s needs can be met – even if it means focusing on their less-than-savory bodily excretions.

Infant Bowel Moments

An infant’s bowel movements can be different textures, colors, and smells based on what your baby is eating (breast milk, solid food, formula, etc.). In comparison with adult stools, a baby’s stool is loose – yet this is not uncommon, if it happens occasionally. However, if your baby’s bowel movement becomes more frequent, runny, or watery, it could possibly be diarrhea.

It can be difficult to tell if your baby has diarrhea, especially if they are breastfed. Infant diarrhea can be caused by many different factors – namely, infection caused by bacteria or a virus, food allergy or medicine sensitivity, drinking too much fruit juice, or even poisoning. Poisoning and medicine allergies sound scary, but rest easy – infant diarrhea is usually caused, more often than not, by a virus, which is much more easily treatable.

Prevention

Prevention can go a long way in making sure your infant doesn’t get diarrhea. Washing your hands regularly and often is imperative when you’re a new parent – an infant’s immune system is not as tough as yours. You should especially practice cleanliness before and after changing diapers, before and after eating, and after using the bathroom. Make sure that you use warm water, soap, and wash your hands for at least 15 seconds – remember, diarrhea is highly contagious. You can easily spread viruses associated with diarrhea by simply touching your infant. Keeping bathroom and kitchen surfaces and counters clean is also important – make sure you clean changing tables, and high-traffic areas daily.

It’s also a good idea to clean baby toys regularly, especially if infected children have been playing with them. Maintain safe food handling practices as well, and be sure that your baby gets the rotavirus vaccine. Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhea in infants and young children. A pediatrician’s office can usually administer the multi-dose oral vaccine at ages 2, 4, and 6 months.

Cutting down on the amount of juice your baby drinks can also help prevent diarrhea, as well as making sure you follow the proper instructions when mixing formula. If you mix baby formula with too much or not enough water, it can contribute to diarrhea. Be exact when measuring out the formula and water. Check the instructions on the package if you switch brands.

You may also try adding yogurt with live cultures to the baby’s diet. Infants over 6 months can eat dairy products made with whole milk, but any baby younger than that shouldn’t eat yogurt. The live cultures will help decrease the length and severity of a diarrhea episode.

Be sure to limit the amount of coffee, soda, and herbal tea you drink, if you are breastfeeding. These beverages have been linked to diarrhea in infants.

Action

But what if prevention doesn’t work, and your poor baby already has diarrhea? Doctors don’t usually recommend over-the-counter, anti-diarrheal medications for children – so what’s a parent to do? You can possibly get your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic for your baby, if you’re dealing with a bacterial infection, or an anti-parasitic drug for, obviously, a parasitic infection. Your child may even need to receive fluids intravenously at a hospital, if it gets really bad.

Another, less scary option is giving your baby an oral electrolyte solution – like, you guessed it, Leolyte. Solutions like Leolyte contain fluid and electrolytes that can prevent and treat dehydration. Hopefully, you will never have to deal with infant diarrhea, but if you do, you now know the proper steps to take to eradicate it.

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