An informed parents’ guide to diarrhoea
New parents would agree that they would never expect to be engrossed in a discussion about poop.
Besides monitoring for a change in colour, consistency and frequency, parents need to know what to do when your baby or toddler has a diarrhoea.
First, what sort of symptoms should you observe before addressing the case of diarrhoea?
How do you know if your baby has diarrhoea
Babies poop in a myriad of colours and consistency, you can identify an onset of diarrhoea if they exhibit the following:
- Watery poop with every new diaper change in the last one or two hours.
- Watery poop for the past few days.
You can also use the WebMD Bristol Tool Chart above for examining your baby’s poop. Anything that hovers around 5, 6 and 7 is close to diarrhoea territory, so monitor your baby for consistent stools as
But if these symptoms flare up, go to a doctor right away:
- Consistent sunken fontanel despite feedings
- Blood in stool
- High fever in very young babies (above 38°C for babies younger than 3 months; above 38.8°C for ages 3 months to 12 months)
- Mucus in the stool
- Severe diarrhoea
- Infrequent urination (less diaper changes)
- Fussiness and irritability
- Dry mouth
- Lack of tears when crying
- Skin doesn’t spring back when you depress it
The above are signs that your child is dehydrated (or on their way there) and there may be an underlying condition to the diarrhoea.
What causes diarrhoea?
Now that you understand how to detect diarrhoea care for your baby, it is time to take a better look at
the causes. As the saying goes, prevention is the best remedy.
When your child is fighting off a virus or bacteria, their immune and digestive systems act up. That might lead to loose stools. Your child may even have rotavirus, but there is a vaccine for this and is included in the required vaccine schedule for babies in Singapore. Do check with your child’s paediatrician or the polyclinics on the vaccination schedule.
2. Antibiotic use
According to Iona Munjal, M.D., director of the Pediatric Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York, antibiotics kill bad and good bacteria. The good ones being killed off in the tummy would compromise on digestive process.
Kids who put things in their mouths are more susceptible to this as parasites can live on their toys and objects found in playgrounds, daycare centers or homes.
Allergies could also be a trigger to diarrhoea. The kind of allergy developed comes in many forms besides food; your baby may have gotten it from an insect bite, plant pollens or medication. In some cases, it may even be hereditary, and your child’s body reacts to the stimuli.
What do you do when your baby has diarrhoea?
If you’ve successfully determined that your child has loose stools and need diarrhoea treatment, how do you deal with it at home?
Here are some methods that experts suggest. Keep in mind that you should consult your doctor before administering any drug or new substance on your baby:
1. Do not give medicine unless your doctor says so
Only physicians are licensed to medicate your baby, so it’s always best to check with the experts.
2. Offer lots of fluids
If your paediatrician allows an oral rehydration drink, you may give that. Otherwise, offer the breast or bottle more often. Never give fruit juice, sugary drinks or off-the- counter medicine as these may aggravate the condition.
3. Continue with solid diet with some modification
You shouldn’t stop feeding your child solid food while they have loose stools, says experts. What you can do is add more whole wheat bread, lean meat like shredded chicken, oatmeal and crackers. You can also give them banana and applesauce, but do not forget protein sources. Should your child’s appetite be poor, considering offering liquid-based diets such as porridge, bee hoon soup or a simply bowl of fish soup to ensure he gets optimal fluids.
4. Keep baby’s bottom clean with gentle methods
Since your little one is pooping more often, his butt can become irritated and prone to diaper rash. The frequent cleaning can also lead to skin abrasions and that can be painful for the little one. Wash with lukewarm water instead of wipes, air dry his bottom and change diapers often to reduce the growth of bacteria. Use a diaper rash cream pre-emptively to soothe baby’s delicate skin too.
Dealing with messy tummy troubles is part and parcel of raising world-ready children. As long as you’re vigilant and informed, you can handle your child’s watery poop like a pro!
Parents, do you prepare any special food for your children when they are down with diarrhoea? Do share them too!