Diarrhea is the sudden increase in the looseness and frequency of bowel movements (BMs). The main complication of diarrhea is dehydration from loss of too much body fluid. Symptoms of dehydration are a dry mouth, the absence of tears, infrequent urination (for example, none in 8 hours), and a darker, concentrated urine. The main goal of diarrhea treatment is to prevent dehydration.
1. FORMULA-FED INFANTS (less than 1 year old) with frequent, watery diarrhea.
1. Start feeding your baby rehydration solutions (Infalyte or Pedialyte) for frequent, watery diarrhea. Give as much as your baby will take. Rehydration solutions are usually only needed for 6 hours but may be given for up to 24 hours.
2. Use the childs regular formula when you begin refeeding. Never give half strength formula for more than 24 hours. Your doctor may recommend lactose-free formulas (milk-based Lactofree or soy formula) for persistent, watery diarrhea.
3. Also give rice cereal, strained bananas, mashed potatoes, etc. to infants over 4 months old (these starchy foods are easy to digest).
2. OLDER CHILDREN (over 1 year old) with frequent, watery diarrhea.
For fluids, if your child is taking solid foods, give water or half-strength orange juice. If your child refuses solids, give rehydration solutions for up to 24 hours. Avoid milk for 2 or 3 days.
For solids use starchy foods such as cereals (especially rice cereal), oatmeal, bread, noodles, mashed potatoes, carrots, applesauce, and strained bananas. Pretzels or salty crackers can help meet the child's sodium needs.
3. BREAST-FED INFANTS with frequent, watery diarrhea.
Continue breastfeeding more often. Add solid foods as described above for formula-fed infants. Offer Infalyte or Pedialyte between feedings only if your baby is urinating less often than normal.
4. Mild diarrhea.
Continue your child's regular diet, except avoid full-strength fruit juice.