bowel movement, Diarrhea

The Real Scoop on Diarrhea

By: Dr. Lyndsey Garbi and Mollie Lobl

Everybody poops, but how many bowel movements per day is considered normal for my child?

The answer varies by age. Babies often have more than four bowel movements per day, and by age two, most children will have one soft but solid bowel movement per day. Every child is different, and as they grow, you will start to recognize their normal bowel habits.

So how do I know if my child has diarrhea?

Babies with diarrhea will pass more bowel movements in a day or will have more watery bowel movements than usual. Don’t forget that in babies, normal stool can be yellow, brown, or green! Your older child has diarrhea if they have three or more watery stools in one day.



What causes diarrhea in children?

Diarrhea in children is usually caused by a virus, something the child has eaten, or can be a side effect of antibiotics.


How can I help my child when they have diarrhea?

·      Continue to feed your child a normal diet, including lean meats, rice, potatoes, and bread, yogurt, fruits and vegetables, and milk (unless your child usually has problems digesting milk)

·      Avoid drinks that are loaded with sugar (sports drinks, sodas) and foods that are high in fat, like fast foods, which will usually make your child’s diarrhea worse

·      Pediatricians usually don’t recommend taking any over the counter medications to treat diarrhea


When should I get in touch with my pediatrician?

If your child has any of these symptoms, you should get in touch with your pediatrician:

·      Bloody diarrhea

·      Severe belly pain

·      Younger than 12 months old and will not eat or drink anything

·      Has decreased energy level and is not acting like himself


Is diarrhea dangerous?

Pediatricians worry about your child becoming dehydrated during bouts of a diarrheal illness, so it’s super important to make sure your child is drinking lots of water. Watch for these signs of possible dehydration, and if you notice any, you should get in touch with your pediatrician:

·      Whether your child is urinating

·      Usual energy level and mood

·      Dry mouth

·      Thirst

·      Crying without tears

Usually, diarrhea in children will resolve. It’s important to make sure your child stays hydrated and to watch for signs of dehydration until your child starts feeling better!