When you become a parent, you also earn your degree in poopology. Ok, well, maybe you don’t earn that degree immediately, but by the time your child is a month old, you can consider yourself a poop expert. You start to notice the subtle changes in their bowel movements and things like color, texture, and consistency become normal poop inspections at every diaper change. Kids get diarrhea frequently, sometimes with no clear cause at all. Learning how to stop diarrhea in kids fast will give you the knowledge you need to help your little one quickly.
Is it Really Diarrhea?
Being chief poop inspector has it’s drawbacks though, especially when it comes to diarrhea. You’re so well-versed in your child’s stool, that changes can be seen as bad or troublesome. As a general rule of thumb, diarrhea in infants is doubling of the number of stools per day. In older kids, it is greater than or equal to three watery/loose stools per day.
Often times we may think our children have diarrhea, but it’s actually just a looser than usual diaper. Is the stool like an apple, apple pie, applesauce, or apple juice consistency? If it’s an apple juice consistency, congratulations. Your kid has diarrhea. If not, the stool is just looser than normal.
Causes of Diarrhea in Kids
Before we jump to how to stop diarrhea in kids fast, it’s important to understand some of the common causes of diarrhea.
- Viral infections
- Bacterial infections
- Ear infections
- Taking antibiotics for another health problem might experience diarrhea from the medication, which throws off the bacterial balance in the intestines.
- Dietary causes for diarrhea include excessive juice consumption, food allergies or food intolerance.
Sometimes the cause is irrelevant, but there are other times where the cause determines the treatment. When diarrhea becomes frequent or chronic in kids, the root cause may need to be investigated and treated by a health care provider to stop diarrhea.
Tips to Stop Diarrhea in Kids Fast
Now that you have a solid understanding of why your child might experience diarrhea, it’s time to talk about how to stop diarrhea in kids fast.
When children have diarrhea, it’s really important to keep them well-hydrated because they are losing considerable amounts of fluid through their stool. Water really is the best option to keep your kid hydrated. But, kids will be kids, and sometimes they’ll refuse to drink it. Stubborn little creatures. Electrolyte drinks made for children help by replacing the salt and water that is expelled in diarrhea, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Pedialyte is the go-to at our house when my children have diarrhea. My kids also enjoy the Pedialyte freezer pops- and I always have a box in the freezer, just in case. The reason I prefer Pedialyte, or the generic versions because the stuff is expensive, is simple: sugar. Drinks like Gatorade have a TON of added sugar, and all the sugar could make diarrhea worse. Avoid sugary drinks like juice, soda, and Gatorade as your child recovers.
You’ve heard of the BRAT Diet, right? The BRAT diet-bananas, rice, applesauce, toast — was once recommended for children with diarrhea as a way to ease the body back to normal. But, here’s the thing, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that most kids can eat a regular diet of solid food with diarrhea unless it is accompanied by vomiting.
While the BRAT diet certainly won’t hurt a child with diarrhea, it just may not be the most effective to help stop diarrhea in kids fast. And that’s what we’re after. A normal diet of healthy food supplies your child’s body with nutrients to help them fight off an infection- if that is the cause of diarrhea.
A few other dietary options to stop diarrhea in kids fast are increasing fiber & fat intake and yogurt. Increasing your child’s fiber and fat intake slowly may help with diarrhea. Fat can slow down a child’s digestion allowing more time for absorption of nutrients and the fiber will help add bulk to the stool. Be careful with fiber, we don’t want to end up causing constipation! Yogurt with live cultures might help restore the balance in the intestines to help clear up diarrhea.
Unfortunately, most cases of diarrhea just need to run their course; which is especially frustrating for parents. Some kids aren’t bothered by diarrhea one bit, while others may be incredibly uncomfortable. I know comforting your child may not seem like a way to stop diarrhea in kids fast, but it might make the situation more tolerable (for both you and your child). A few ways you can comfort a child with diarrhea:
- If your child is still in diapers, change their diaper immediately to prevent diaper rash. And, be prepared to treat a diaper rash; rashes are almost inevitable with diarrhea.
- Snuggles and a favorite movie; maybe even make a special drink out of Pedialyte. Pedialyte slushies are a huge hit at our house when someone doesn’t feel well.
- Patience. It’s really hard to be patient when you’re wiping poopy butts 500 times a day, but remember, your child probably doesn’t feel well. So be patient and try not to get frustrated.
Make sure you check out the toolkit! It’s got all kinds of resources you can use to help your kids and manage everyday emergencies.
When to See a Doctor
Most of the time diarrhea will resolve itself within a few days, but knowing when to seek medical attention is important. If you notice any of the following, please make an appointment with your pediatrician:
- If you notice diarrhea includes blood, is greasy or is black.
- If your child experiences:
- Severe abdominal cramping
- Ear pain
- Dehydration- You’ll notice things like less urination, crying without tears, dry mouth, losing weight, lethargy or sunken eyes
These symptoms could indicate a more serious problem. Another reason to head to the pediatrician is when you suspect that diarrhea could be related to a food allergy or intolerance. A food reaction can occur immediately or up to 72hrs after the ingestion of the offending food. You’ll likely start to notice a pattern of diarrhea after your child eats certain foods- that’s an indicator that there might be an underlying food allergy.
And that’s it!
Those are the tips and tricks to stop diarrhea in kids fast!
Enjoy this post? You may also like:
- Update on Diarrhea.
- Chronic Diarrhea.
- Chronic Diarrhea.
- Acute Diarrhea in Children.
- Diarrhea and Dehydration (Copyright © 1996 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 7/2004)