Uh-Oh, Your Baby Has Diarrhea! How To Handle This Diaper Disaster

by Scary Mommy Team
Originally Published: 
Baby Diarrhea
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Baby poop is a mystery. Its colors and consistency are often cause for alarm in first-time parents. Let’s be real, after all: Opening your newborn or infant’s diaper and seeing a bright green is definitely alarming. But is it baby diarrhea?! And if so, why is it happening — and what should you do to get your little one’s bowel movements back to normal?

It’s often hard to tell if your baby has diarrhea. Their stool can be super soft and vastly change in color, especially in breastfed babies and in those first few weeks of life. Yellow poop or green poop doesn’t necessarily mean your baby has diarrhea (we know you’ve googled this ’cause, seriously, we’ve all been there). But there are ways to tell, and things that you can do to help your baby when they’ve got the runs.

Looking for other baby care tips? Check out our infant health pages on treating dry baby scalp, teething pain, baby hunger cues, and more.

What does baby diarrhea look like?

Basically, baby diarrhea is very watery stools that come in at frequent intervals. When you first join the motherhood, everything that happens in your baby’s diaper is a bit bewildering. In time, though, you’ll come to know how often your baby poops a day and what it looks like. Go ahead and file that under knowledge you never dreamed you’d find useful before you had kids.

So, what does normal baby poop look like? For breastfed babies, it usually means loose, yellowy poo, sometimes with a kind of seed-like substance in it (again, green and yellow poop, though weird, is normal and usually not diarrhea). For formula-fed babies, poop is usually thicker, kind of mustardy in texture, and a yellow-to-tan shade.

If your baby’s stool is watery, and if they keep passing it frequently, it means your baby has diarrhea. Mucus, blood, or a bad smell can also point to diarrhea, especially in breastfed babies. Your baby may also have other symptoms — they may act sick or have a fever, according to Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Does honey help with diarrhea?

Honey is proven to reduce the duration of diarrhea. It has antibacterial properties that help people with bacterial gastroenteritis. It also has the same effect as glucose. Honey blocks bacteria that may want to latch onto your intestinal walls, which lowers your risk of infection. However, before you give your kiddo anything for their runny belly, run it by your doctor.

What can cause baby diarrhea?

There are several possible reasons for that runny abomination in your baby’s diaper. It might be due to:

  • A virus or bacterial infection
  • Antibiotics (diarrhea is a normal side-effect may be diarrhea and shouldn’t be cause for alarm)
  • Lactose or cow milk allergy, which could cause chronic diarrhea
  • Teething*

*It’s worth noting that while some people believe teething causes diarrhea, many doctors and dentists believe that these two things are not usually associated.

What is the treatment for baby diarrhea?

If your baby is at least three months old, the best home remedy you can offer them is comfort. Most cases of diarrhea pass on their own. Having said that, you may need to change baby’s diet or switch formulas if it turns out they have an allergy.

Doctors don’t usually recommend anti-diarrheal medicine for babies, because it’s pretty common. But if your baby is eating solid foods, start giving them bland meals like bananas, applesauce, rice cereal, and lots of water. Avoid giving your baby greasy snacks or meals that are high in fiber. Cut back on the dairy products like milk and cheese and other sweets like cake and cookies.

It’s important to keep in mind that diarrhea is a contagious bacterial infection. Be sure to wash your hands after changing a diaper. Keeping your hands and the diaper area clean will keep it from spreading to the rest of your household.

One of the most important things you can do when your baby comes down with diarrhea is to make sure that your baby stays hydrated. This may mean more frequent nursing or bottle feedings. If your baby is getting dehydrated, however, other solutions may be needed. Some pediatricians recommend a special electrolyte drink for breastfed babies. The best course of action if you fear your baby is getting dehydrated is to call their pediatrician right away.

When should I go see a doctor about baby diarrhea?

If your baby is younger than three months and experiencing frequent watery stools, it’s best to give their doctor a call. A call is also warranted if the diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, lethargy, and/or a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

As mentioned above, one of the biggest risks of diarrhea in babies and infants is dehydration. A few things to keep an eye out for? If your baby’s urine frequency changes, or if they get a dry mouth. So, if the diarrhea persists or gets more severe and you notice these symptoms, go ahead and schedule a doctor’s visit.

What are some other signs of dehydration?

We really can’t stress how important it is to make sure your baby is hydrated. Here are some symptoms of dehydration that you will want to be vigilant about watching for when your baby has diarrhea:

  • No tears while crying
  • A decrease in wet diapers
  • Lethargy and lack of activity
  • Irritability
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry skin that doesn’t spring back to its usual shape after being pinched
  • Sunken eyes
  • Sunken soft spot on top of their head
  • Very fussy
  • Cool and discolored hands and feet
  • Wrinkled skin

Is baby diarrhea and teething related?

Contrary to popular belief, teething is not related to your baby’s runny belly, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, many mothers believe they are because when babies teethe around six months, mommies start to offer them solid foods. This change in diet can cause diarrhea. After breastfeeding and drinking formula, your baby’s tummy may be sensitive to new foods, which can throw off their digestive tract.

Besides growing new teeth, at six months babies also begin to lose the antibodies they got from their mothers, which makes them more prone to infection. This is another reason teething and diarrhea happen around the same time.

Is there a baby poop chart guide?

As a mama, being concerned about your baby’s poop is normal. To help you deal, we’ve categorized each baby poop by color and texture to give you peace of mind and the perfect doo-doo dictionary.

  • Greenish-black: This is meconium, which is a substance that passes through your baby’s body for the first days of their life. This is a good sign, Mama. It means your baby’s bowels are working.
  • Yellow and seedy: If your baby is breastfed, their poop will most likely be mustard-colored, yellow, or light brownish. It’s also common for this load to be watery and even seedy. It’s usually mushy and even smells kind of sweet.

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