Q&A: Why does my toddler get diarrhea so often?
My tot gets diarrhea really often. It seems like at least once a month we have a run of a week to 10 days of loose stools (and lots of laundry!). He isn't eating anything new and has a good, balanced diet. Is this normal? What can we do to help calm his tummy?
There are several possible causes for your child’s diarrhea. I encourage you to talk with your pediatrician to uncover the cause for your child specifically, but here are some of the common causes of diarrhea in children:
Your doctor will most likely ask for a stool sample to check for a viral infection, parasite, or bacterial infection. Since there are breaks in your toddler’s diarrhea it is less likely that this may be the cause.
- Food intolerance: This is different from an allergy. Allergies will trigger responses like rashes, swelling, or even difficulty breathing. Food intolerance (lactose is a common culprit) can cause symptoms like diarrhea and nausea.
- Toddler’s diarrhea: This happens frequently to children beginning at about six months for some and lasting as long as their fourth birthday. This can be related to new foods or in many cases from over-consumption of juice. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests limiting your child’s intake to four to six ounces a day.
- Medication:Antibiotics can cause tummy upset for many children.
- Some other cause like a malabsorption syndrome.
Tips for Dealing with Diarrhea
- Think about how much juice he is consuming. Reduce it and take note of how your child reacts. (Talk with your doctor during this process. Some doctors recommend no juice at all for young children.)
- When he does have diarrhea, make sure he stays well hydrated—water or something like Pedialyte are your best bet. (Avoid sugary drinks, which may make diarrhea worse)
- Use diaper cream to help if his bottom becomes irritated or red due to frequent stools.
- Try offering yogurt with live acidophilus cultures that may help restore the normal flora of his intestinal tract.
- Offer bananas or rice to help his stools to become more formed.
- Notify your pediatrician if your child has a fever and/or is vomiting and unable to take anything by mouth.