Feeding and Digestive Issues: Diarrhea
Although bottle-fed babies have more formed bowel movements than breastfed babies, even a breastfed newborn’s healthy stools will have some seedy substance. In either case, if you notice watery, green stools – sometimes with mucus or blood – then the baby most likely has diarrhea. The reasons are varied, but at this young age it’s usually attributed to a stomach bug or gastrointestinal infection like rotavirus. (Later on down the road, diarrhea may also be because of food sensitivity, antibiotic medication or too much fruit juice.)
Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhea, often accompanied by vomiting, fever and dehydration. Inquire about the rotavirus vaccine to prevent this highly contagious infection.
If your baby has diarrhea:
- Continue feedings as normal. Although diarrhea is rare in breast-fed babies, it’s not unheard of – just keep nursing as you normally would. For formula-fed babies, you might have to switch to a soy-based or lactose-free formula if the diarrhea doesn’t improve in a couple of weeks. Sometimes formula-fed babies can develop lactose intolerance, which is usually temporary.
- Check for dehydration:
- More concentrated urine that looks darker and smells stronger
- Six hours or more without a wet diaper
- Dry lips
- Unusual lethargy
- If your baby has sunken eyes and cold, splotchy hands and feet, take him or her to the emergency room immediately.
- If your baby is at risk for dehydration, supplement your normal feedings with an over-the-counter rehydration fluid like Pedialyte. Work your baby up to 8 ounces of fluid in between bowel movements, starting off with a few sips every three or four minutes.
- Do not give over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medicine unless the doctor says to.
- Avoid any glucose water or salt-and-sugar mixtures.
- Diarrhea increases your baby’s risk of diaper rash, so change his or her diaper as soon as it’s soiled and use an anti-rash ointment.
Call the doctor if the baby is:
- Having watery stools for over 24 hours
- Vomiting, especially for over 24 hours
- Producing bloody stools
- Running a fever
- Possibly reacting to spoiled formula
- Showing signs of severe dehydration – in which case you should go to an emergency room immediately