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What To Do When Your Child Has Diarrhea

Medically reviewed by Elfred Landas, MD · General Practitioner · Maxicare Primary Care Center

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jun 21, 2021

What To Do When Your Child Has Diarrhea

It’s not surprising for children to experience diarrhea from time to time; that’s why it’ll be helpful for parents to know about the home remedies for loose bowel movement. Here’s what to do when your child has diarrhea.

How to Treat Diarrhea at Home

Are you looking for ways to stop diarrhea in kids fast? If so, consider the following practices.

Give your child fluids

When your child has diarrhea, the topmost priority is to prevent dehydration. In most cases, you can prevent dehydration in kids by ensuring that they have adequate fluid intake.

Experts say some water is okay, but they remind parents not to give too much as it can be harmful.  Besides water, you can also give your little one watered-down fruit juice, broth, or jelly.

If your child doesn’t show signs of dehydration and is not vomiting, you can give them fluids or breastmilk as usual.

Now, if they appear mildly dehydrated, you can consider giving them an oral rehydration solution (ORS). Many brands are available over-the-counter. However, it’s still best to provide it under the supervision of a doctor.

Make little changes in their diet

What do you need to do about their diet when a child has diarrhea? According to doctors, you can generally continue feeding your child as usual. If you are breastfeeding, continue doing so; if your child receives formula milk, do not dilute it. In both cases, offer them foods they usually eat.

If they are no longer receiving breastmilk or formula milk, keep these tips in mind:

  • Small, frequent meals might be better than 3 big meals.
  • Incorporate some salty foods into their diet, such as soup and pretzels;
  • But otherwise, focus on bland foods.
  • Examples of bland foods which children can tolerate are:

    • Baked or broiled meat (fish, chicken, beef, or pork)
    • Cooked egg
    • Banana, rice, applesauce, and toast (BRAT diet)
    • Pasta and other bread products made from white flour
    • Cooked vegetables and fresh fruits, unless they cause gas.
    • Baked potatoes
    • Some desserts, like jelly and cookies

    In general, it’s okay to give them low-fat dairy products such as cheese, milk, and yogurt. However, if these foods trigger or worsen their symptoms, it’s best to avoid them.

    Other foods to avoid are caffeine, carbonated drinks, greasy foods, and full-strength fruit juices.

    Encourage adequate rest

    And, of course, help your child get adequate rest and relaxation. This will give their body enough strength to fight off whatever is causing their loose bowel movement.

    Note: While your child is recovering, don’t give them anti-diarrheal drugs unless approved by a physician.

    what to do when your child has diarrhea

    When to Seek Medical Help

    Most cases of acute diarrhea, or LBM that lasts less than 7 days, don’t need medical treatment. When your child has diarrhea that persists for more than 3 days despite home remedies, it’s time to bring them to the doctor to get a diagnosis.

    Persistent diarrhea (lasting for more than a week) and chronic diarrhea (lasting for more than a month) could result from a previous infection or a long-term condition such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease.

    Regardless of how long diarrhea lasts, bring your child to the doctor immediately if:

    • There is blood in their stool or their stool appears black.
    • They complain of a severe stomach ache.
    • Your child has a fever that won’t go away.
    • They appear less active than usual.
    • You observe signs of dehydration.

    Treatment for diarrhea depends on the cause. For acute cases, like infections, they may or may not receive medications.

    In case they have a long-term condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome, the doctor may advise lifestyle modifications such as “training” the child to have a bowel movement regularly, at specific times within the day.

    They might also be prescribed medications for other symptoms like abdominal pain.

    Key Takeaways

    There are many reasons why children develop diarrhea. In most cases, it’s due to an acute infection like viral gastroenteritis.

    When your child has diarrhea at home, you can focus on preventing dehydration by replacing lost fluids with water, watered-down juice, broth, jelly, or ORS.

    But always remember that it’s best to seek the advice of a physician if your child’s diarrhea persists for more than two to three days.

    Learn more about Digestive Problems in Children here. 


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Elfred Landas, MD

    General Practitioner · Maxicare Primary Care Center

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jun 21, 2021

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