Is your infant experiencing diarrhea? This can be a problem with an easy solution, or it could be devastating to your young child. It is important to seek a physician's advice and help when your infant's diarrhea continues for more than a week. In most cases the problem will resolve itself, but many infants die each year of diarrhea.
A baby's normal poop may look quite similar to that of adult diarrhea. Dr. Alan Greene, clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine and attending pediatrician at Packard Children's Hospital, explains that healthy baby stool is quite soft and runny, and within the first month of birth, frequent. Newborns may have consecutive runny, wet bowel movements in a day and are perfectly fine, while an older infant may have firmer stool and have diarrhea, says Greene. Thus it is difficult to tell if there is a problem with your baby's excretion.
Dr. Greene tells parents to look for sudden increases in the frequency of their infant's bowel movements. As Green states, "Each baby has its own stool frequency pattern that changes slowly over time. If it changes noticeably within only a few days, it may have diarrhea." Other signs of infant diarrhea include infants having more than one bowel movement per feeding and increase in the amount of water in the baby's stool. Infant diarrhea may also be found in infants who have a fever or congestion.
Diarrhea in infants can also be caused by a change in diet, even a diet change in mothers who breast feed, states Greene. Infections, certain medications and diseases may also cause diarrhea in infants. Each year there are nearly 1 billion cases of infant diarrhea, and most are easily resolved. Yet many infants die due to complications associated with diarrhea. The main concern with diarrhea is dehydration.
For mothers who breast feed, do not stop. Breastfeeding can help to prevent diarrhea or can help to ease diarrhea for infants who have it. As is the same with adults who suffer from dehydration, infants can be treated with certain liquids full of electrolytes. Mothers who bottle feed are encouraged to switch to a soy-based formula, explains Greene. Soy-based formulas can slow down diarrhea. Certain foods, for babies eating solids, can also slow down diarrhea. Apple sauce, carrots, potatoes and bananas, according to Dr. Greene, can all help. It is important to avoid sweet fruit juices, which can increase the risk of diarrhea.
It is also important to consider your baby's bottom when he or she is experiencing diarrhea. Dr. Green explains that there are enzymes within baby's stool that can harm the skin. Of course, with diarrhea comes an increase in bowel movements. The more a parent wipes an infant's bottom, the more chance there is for the enzymes to harm the skin of the infant. Rinsing the baby's bottom with water and using baby skin creams such as Baby Bee Diaper Ointment, which is a best seller, can help the baby to be more comfortable during these pressing times.