What is diarrhoea?

Babies with diarrhoea can become dehydrated, especially if they’ve lost their appetite.

Diarrhoea refers to very frequent, loose and watery stools. Babies with diarrhoea loose a lot of water as well as valuable electrolytes like sodium and potassium, and may quickly become dehydrated.

What causes diarrhoea?

Often diarrhoea is a temporary symptom of a stomach bug caused by a bacterial or viral infection. However, sometimes diarrhoea can be the result of food allergy or sensitivity, or taking certain medicines.

Does my baby have diarrhoea?

If your baby’s stools suddenly get much looser or more watery, and happens more often and in large amounts, it may be diarrhoea. If your baby has diarrhoea and nausea you may also find their appetite is reduced, which can be a challenge in trying to prevent them from becoming dehydrated.

How is diarrhoea treated?

If your baby has diarrhoea, always follow the advice of your healthcare professional.

Try to feed fluid as often as your baby will take it. As well as fluid, your baby’s body needs electrolytes to function properly, so a solution containing electrolytes should be used to help to rehydrate even more effectively.

If your baby has constant or persistent diarrhoea, make sure you talk to your doctor. It’s important to rule out any underlying medical causes of chronic diarrhoea. Diarrhoea, constipation and/or vomiting may also be symptoms of a food allergy.

What else can I do?

  • Always seek a doctor’s advice immediately if the stools contain blood or are very dark, or if there is no improvement after 24 hours. Also check for fever or signs of dehydration (e.g. baby is not urinating)
  • Make sure your baby drinks plenty of fluids
  • Change your baby’s nappy frequently and use a barrier cream such as Bepanthen Nappy Rash* to prevent irritation

*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.

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Breastmilk is best for Babies

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Breastfeeding is best for babies and has many benefits, such as protecting your baby from infection while their immune system develops. It is important that you eat a healthy, balanced diet in preparation for and during breastfeeding. Infant formula is designed to replace breast milk when an infant is not breastfed. Combining breast and bottle feeding in your baby’s first weeks of life may reduce your supply of breast milk, and reversing a decision not to breastfeed is difficult. The social and financial implications of using infant formula should be considered when choosing a method of feeding. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when preparing and using infant formula, including proper sterilisation of bottles and using boiled water. Improper use of an infant formula may make your baby ill. Always consult your doctor, midwife or health care professional for advice about feeding your baby.

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