Diarrhea in Babies: What Doctors Are Learning

Discover the latest knowledge about what causes diarrhea in babies—and how to get relief for your child.

Doctors and researchers agree that diarrhea can be caused by a variety of factors. The most common causes of diarrhea in babies includes feeding issues (such as a sensitivity to a food in the mother’s diet if the baby is breastfed), cow’s milk protein allergy, and intestinal viruses.  Getting to the cause of your baby’s diarrhea is key for relief. If your baby is experiencing diarrhea, you should speak with your pediatrician to help discover why.

Baby Diarrhea Caused by a Food Sensitivity

If you’re breastfeeding, your baby may react to something you’ve eaten. The best way to find out: Eliminate certain foods from your diet on a trial basis, with the help of your pediatrician. You’ll likely be advised to keep a food diary and note a pattern of symptoms when you consume certain foods.

Baby Diarrhea: Indications of an Allergy

One of the top clues to diarrhea due to an allergy is recurrence after almost every feeding. If your baby has this experience, check with your doctor to see if she might have a cow’s milk protein allergy. Research shows that about 3% of babies have a cow’s milk allergy. In these cases, babies are allergic to proteins found in milk and other dairy products. Casein and whey are often culprits. Other signs of an allergy may include vomiting, skin rashes, and colic.

If it’s an allergy causing baby diarrhea, switching formula could be the answer. Your pediatrician may suggest Nutramigen® with Enflora LGG®*, which has hypoallergenic proteins that are easy for babies to digest.

Baby Diarrhea Due to a Virus

Additionally, one of the common causes of diarrhea in babies is viral gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and large and small intestines. The latest thinking in treatment:

For mild diarrhea For infants with mild gastroenteritis who are not dehydrated, experts suggest that you continue to feed the baby breast milk or formula. Keeping babies on their regular diet can help reduce the duration of diarrhea, while still providing babies with the nutrition they need.

Diarrhea combined with dehydration: If you suspect your baby may be dehydrated, contact your doctor immediately. Research indicates that diarrhea is especially serious when it results in dehydration. Signs of dehydration include:

  • No tears when crying
  • Lack of wet diaper for 6 to 8 hours in an infant or only urinating a small amount of dark yellow urine
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy

Research has shown that an oral rehydration solution can replenish the nutrients your baby has lost and get your baby on the road to good health.

*LGG is a registered trademark of Chr. Hansen A/S.