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Diarrhea in children: How you should treat it with home remedies and medicines

Nothing can put the brakes on a child’s fun – or thwart family plans – more than a case of diarrhea. Diarrhea is a common condition that occurs when stool contains too much water. The best treatment depends on the cause, but there are ways to relieve symptoms. Learn how to treat diarrhea in children, including tips on medications, home remedies and the best foods for your child.

What can cause diarrhea in children?

What can cause diarrhea in young children

Usually, diarrhea in children is considered “acute,” meaning it lasts a few days to a week. The most common cause is an infection, whether viral, bacterial or parasitic.

Aside from gastrointestinal infections, diarrhea in children can also be caused by other problems, such as:

  • Food allergies
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Eating or drinking too much sugar or artificial sweeteners
  • Certain antibiotic medications

Chronic diarrhea that lasts longer than 2-4 weeks is less common. Like acute diarrhea, it can be caused by bacterial, viral or parasitic infections, as well as underlying inflammation in the body, genetic or autoimmune diseases.

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What helps against diarrhea in children

What should you feed a toddler with diarrhea

Treatment of diarrhea in children usually does not require medication. In most cases, it stops when the organism eliminates the infection.

Diarrhea is like the cough in a cold. Your intestines are trying to eliminate the bad substances. If you slow down the bowels with an antidiarrheal medication during infectious diarrhea, you will keep the infection in the body.

If your child’s diarrhea lasts more than a few days, see your pediatrician to find out the cause and the best treatment.

Information about medicines for diarrhea

  • Generally, antibiotics are not used to treat infectious diarrhea in children.
  • Always talk to your doctor before giving your child over-the-counter diarrhea medicines such as Imodium.
  • Probiotics may be helpful for some types of infectious diarrhea . You can buy probiotics over the counter in liquid and pill form. Be sure to buy the version that is “for children.”
  • Do not give any medication to children under 3 years of age without first consulting your doctor.

Home remedies for diarrhea in children

Keep your child hydrated when he or she has diarrhea

There is no specific food, drink, or home remedy that can stop your child’s diarrhea. The best treatment is supportive care. To relieve diarrhea symptoms, focus on the following:

  • Keep your child hydrated: Diarrhea causes the body to lose salts and electrolytes, so it is necessary to make sure your child drinks enough fluids. Avoid juice and other sugary drinks.
  • Offer a variety of nutritious foods
  • Identify triggers or problem foods

To keep a child with diarrhea hydrated, offer plenty of fluids, such as:

  • Water
  • Broth or soup
  • Pediatric electrolyte solutions in liquid form or as a frozen drink
  • Sports drinks (choose low-sugar varieties)

What should you feed an infant with diarrhea?

If your child has diarrhоe, it is important to give him a healthy, balanced diet in addition to plenty of fluids. In the past, doctors recommended the “BRAT” diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast). Today, many doctors no longer recommend this diet. Instead, they recommend that children continue to eat a nutritious, balanced diet because there is evidence that the intestines heal when the child is fed.

For breastfed infants and children, breast milk remains a good option for diarrhea nutrition. Breast milk is easily absorbed and contains more nutrients than electrolyte solutions. However, parents should keep in mind that infants, especially newborns, are very susceptible to dehydration during diarrhоe. Therefore, if you notice a change in your baby’s stool, you should contact your pediatrician.

In some cases of diarrhоe, your child’s pediatrician may suggest a dairy-free, low-sugar diet – for a short period of time. If your child’s diarrhоe persists, try keeping a food diary. Gluten can also cause diarrhea in some children.

Can fiber or certain foods help?

Fiber is often used to regulate bowel movements and can be used for both constipation and diarrhea, depending on the type of fiber in the diet. Pectin, a naturally occurring substance in foods, can also be used to thicken stool. Certain high-fiber foods can help slow your child’s diarrhea. High-fiber foods that can help with diarrhоe include:

  • Apples (not the peel)
  • Bananas
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Sweet potatoes (not the skin)

When should you take your child to the doctor

What helps against diarrhea in children


Call a doctor if your child:

  • Is less than 6 months old
  • Has blood in the stool
  • Shows signs of dehydration (low urine output, no tears, no spitting up in the mouth, excessive sleepiness or low activity)
  • Vomiting
  • High fever that does not improve even with fever medication
  • The abdomen is distended (swollen or enlarged)
  • Has a history of abdominal surgery
  • Symptoms last longer than 2-3 days