Babies and diarrhea

Alternative names
Diarrhea and babies


Most diarrhea in children is short-lived, caused by a virus, and goes away on its own. Infants and young children (under age 3) can dehydrate quickly, so they should be watched very carefully. Notify your pediatrician of the problem at the onset of diarrhea in a newborn (under 3 months old) or if diarrhea persists in older infants and children for 2 days or longer.

Make sure the child gets plenty of liquids. Often, your pediatrician will recommend fluids that contain electrolytes such as Pedialyte or Ricelyte. Follow the doctor’s instructions. If you are nursing, the doctor will probably recommend that you continue nursing, possibly in addition to giving extra fluids. See also: diet for diarrhea.

Talk to your pediatrician right away if there are signs of dehydration. If the infant develops signs of moderate or severe dehydration, he or she should be seen at once.

Signs of mild dehydration:Dry eyes and crying with few tears or no tears

  • Slightly dry mouth  
  • Fewer wet diapers than usual  
  • Less active than usual or irritable

Signs of moderate dehydration:

  • Sunken appearing eyes  
  • Sluggish or lethargic  
  • Skin feels dry and not springy

Signs of severe dehydration:

  • In infants, sunken fontanelle (the soft spot on top of the head)  
  • No urine output in 6 hours  
  • When skin is pinched between fingers, it fails to spring back to its original shape  
  • Very lethargic or possibly unconscious

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Janet G. Derge, M.D.

Medical Encyclopedia

  A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | 0-9

All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.