Newborn Diarrhea

infant has diarrhea

Diarrhea is when the newborn passes extremely runny, liquidy stools, in some cases at an increased frequency or more volume than typical. There might be mucus in the stool. Diarrhea is sometimes related to vomiting.

Common Symptoms of Diarrhea

First, you’ll have to consider what’s normal for your particular baby. Newborn babies poop often– as frequently as after every feeding– and their poop is normally quite soft, especially if the baby is breastfed.

On top of that, your baby’s stool may change depending on what you’ve consumed, if he’s nursing. When he starts eating solid foods, you’ll discover that his stool has firmed up a bit– though it might change from time to time, depending on his diet.

All of which makes it tough to describe how to tell if your baby has diarrhea. Here’s one way to think about it: An occasional stool that’s looser than regular for your baby is nothing to stress over, but if your baby’ defecation unexpectedly change– that is, he poops more than typical and passes looser, more watery stools than typical– then it’s most likely diarrhea.

While a severe case of diarrhea can alarm even the most imperturbable parents, the majority of cases of diarrhea in the United States are reasonably moderate and do not pose a significant health danger as long as your baby does not get dehydrated. But dehydration can be very severe, even fatal, in a baby, so it’s important that you make certain your baby is getting plenty of liquids.

What causes diarrhea in newborns?

The list of possibilities is long. Your baby’s diarrhea might be caused by a viral or bacterial infection It may likewise be the result of a parasite, a course of antibiotics, or something he ate.

Viral infection

Any number of infections– like the rotovirus, adenovirus, calicivirus, astrovirus, and influenza– can cause diarrhea, in addition to vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, chills, and achiness.

Bacterial infection

Bacteria– such as salmonella, shigella, staphylococcus, campylobacter, or E. coli– can likewise be accountable for diarrhea. If your baby has a bacterial infection, he might have severe diarrhea, accompanied by cramps, blood in his stool, and a fever. (He might or may not be vomiting.).

Some bacterial infections clear up by themselves, but some, like that from the E. coli that can be found in undercooked meat and other food sources, can be extremely serious. So if your baby has these symptoms, take him to the doctor. She’ll analyze him and most likely examine a stool culture for signs of a bacterial infection.

Ear infection

In some cases, an ear infection (which may be viral or bacterial) can be the perpetrator in a bout of diarrhea. If this is the case, you may also observe that your baby is fussy and pulling on his ears. He may likewise be vomiting and have a poor appetite, and he might have recently had a cold.


Parasitic infections can likewise cause diarrhea. Giardiasis, for instance, is caused by a tiny parasite that lives in the bowel. Symptoms might consist of gas, bloating, diarrhea, and oily stools.

These sort of infections are easily spread in group-care scenarios, and treatment includes special medicine, so your baby will need to see the doctor.


If your baby has diarrhea during or after a course of antibiotics, it may be associated with the medication, which kills off excellent bacteria in the intestinal tracts along with the problem-causing bacteria. Speak to his doctor about options and solutions, but do not stop offering any recommended medication to your baby up until his doctor provides you the go-ahead.

Excessive juice

Too much juice (especially fruit juice containing sorbitol and high levels of fructose) or too many sweetened drinks can upset a baby’s tummy and cause him to have loose stools. Cutting down the quantity should solve the problem in a week or two.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you not offer your baby fruit juice before the age of 6 months. After that, provide him no greater than 4 ounces a day.

Poorly blended formula can also cause diarrhea, so ensure you’re adding the right amount of water when you blend your baby’s formula.

Food allergy

Call 911 if your baby is having problem breathing or has swelling of his face or lips.

A food allergy (where the body’s immune system reacts to normally harmless food proteins) can cause moderate or severe reactions -instantly or within a number of hours. Symptoms might consist of diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, and blood in the stool. In more severe cases, an allergic reaction can also cause hives, a rash, swelling, and breathing trouble.

Milk protein is the most common food irritant. (Your baby shouldn’t drink cow’s milk until after his first birthday, however formula made with cow’s milk or food made with a dairy item -as soon as he’s consuming solids -can cause a reaction, if your baby’s allergic. In many cases, so can breast milk, if the mother has actually been eating dairy items.).

Other common food allergens (the majority of which your baby will not yet have on his menu) include eggs, peanuts, soy, wheat, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. If you believe your baby may have a food allergy, talk with his doctor.

Food intolerance

Unlike a food allergy, a food intolerance (often called a food level of sensitivity) is an unusual reaction that does not include the immune system. One example of a food level of sensitivity is lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance is extremely unusual in children, however if your baby is lactose intolerant, it implies his body isn’t really producing enough lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose, the sugar in cow’s milk and other dairy products. When the undigested lactose remains in the intestinal tract, it can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramping, bloating, and gas. Symptoms generally start half an hour to two hours after taking in milk products.

By the way, if your baby has a severe case of diarrhea, he might temporarily have difficulty producing lactase, and as a result he might have symptoms of lactose intolerance for a week or two.


If your baby has diarrhea and is vomiting and you believe he may have swallowed some sort of nonfood product like a medication, chemical, or plant, call the Poison Control Center immediately (800-222-1222). Call 911 if he ends up being unconscious or is having trouble breathing. Other symptoms may include tiredness and convulsions.

Read next: Newborn diarrhea treatment


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