Diarrhea in children

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Philippe Gloaguen
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Diarrhea in children

La Diarrhea it consists first of all in a change in stool consistency, which become very watery and with frequent evacuations.

This is a very common problem in babies: for example, breastfed babies who are not yet eating solid foods often produce frequent soft stools, which are considered normal. A sudden increase in number and soft consistency may indicate diarrhea in these children. 

Children with diarrhea can lose your appetite, to throw up, lose weight or have fever. Also, if the diarrhea is severe or prolonged, it is likely to come to dehydration.

Let's see together what to do in case of diarrhea in the child.

In this article

  • The causes
  • How long does it last
  • Remedies
  • Nutrition
  • drugs
  • Denti
  • In the newborn, how to behave
Read also: Gastroenteritis in children, prevent it from the first weeks

The causes

The main cause of diarrhea is infectious: the agents responsible are above all virus (for example the rotavirus or norovirus) that cause gastroenteritis, but there is no lack of cases caused by bacteria (in particular Salmonella and Campylobacter).

In most cases, diarrhea is a sign of gastroenteritis, one of the most common diseases in children. Suffice it to say that practically all children under three years experience at least one or two episodes of gastroeneritis a year.

Other possible causes are food allergies and intolerances or, more rarely, metabolic diseases such as cystic fibrosis or intestinal malabsorption diseases.

How long does it last

First of all, it should be clarified that a child who poops softer than usual or even liquid only once a day does not have diarrhea as a pathology: he may have eaten something that bothered him or is under stress.
We talk about diarrhea when more than 3 soft discharges occur in a day

Generally, with the appropriate changes in nutrition, with rest and by making the child drink a lot, the diarrhea passes to the maximum. within 5-6 days, and is often accompanied by fever or vomiting; if, on the other hand, it lasts more than a week, it is advisable to contact the pediatrician.


If the baby is more than two months old and the episodes are not too frequent (less than 7-8 during the day), that's enough administer oral rehydration solution to replenish the body's salt and sugar reserves, reducing the risk of dehydration.

See everyone Diarrhea add up the vomiting, oral rehydration could be a problem: in this case, the solution should be given a little at a time, with a teaspoon, preferably cold.
Instead, it is necessary to consult a doctor if the child is less than two months old or if the diarrhea is very intense (more than 8 episodes a day) or associated with persistent vomiting (for more than 6-8 hours): the risk is that of dehydration and rehydration with drip or nasogastric tube may be necessary.

Read also: Diarrhea in the newborn and infant: symptoms, causes and how to intervene


The most important thing for a child who has diarrhea is not to eat but beer. Foods such as bread, pasta and rice, fish, white meats and extra virgin olive oil are good for the diet. Instead, it is better to avoid foods rich in fiber. In many cases, the child may not crave food and it is therefore good to indulge it e do not force him to eat
However, when his appetite returns, fasting is useless: the little one can return to normal nutrition.


In addition to rehydrating solution i can be administered Probiotics (particularly products with Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Saccharomyces boulardii), which are effective in reducing the duration and symptoms of the disease. They can also be administered adsorbent drugs such as smectite, while there is no unanimity on antiemetic, which work but can give side effects.


It is a hotly debated topic: fever and diarrhea, is it the fault of the teeth?

In reality, there is no scientifically proven correlation between fever, diarrhea and tooth eruption: it is true, however, that the growth of the teeth can coincide with the period in which the child first comes into contact with some infections, which can manifest themselves precisely with these disorders.

In the newborn, how to behave

In infants, diarrhea can cause diaper rash and in some cases even a real one candida. It is therefore important: 

  1. Change the diaper as soon as possible after each discharge
  2. Observe good bottom hygiene at each change
  3. Protect the part with a zinc oxide cream
  4. Use water to wash and limit the use of wipes

Other sources for this article: Learn more about Medline Plus; In-depth study on Healthy Children, site of the American Association of Pediatricians; In-depth material from the English health service.

Read also: The diaper change

Questions and answers

What to eat to stop diarrhea in children?

In case of diarrhea it is necessary to take care even more of the feeding of children; some of the foods indicated are bread and pasta, rice, boiled potatoes, white meats, oily fish, bananas, apples, carrots.

What are the symptoms of viral gastroenteritis?  

Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Sudden jet vomiting
  • Diarrhea with frequent and often watery discharge

  • Diarrhea
  • newborn diarrhea
  • 1-2 children years
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