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How do I treat diarrhoea in my baby or child?

Answered on 11th January 2016
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In a large majority of cases, diarrhoea will often pass without treatment after 5-7 days and should last no longer than two weeks. There are a number of steps that parents can take to reduce the severity of their child’s symptoms and protect them from any further harm.

It is very important to make sure your little one remains well hydrated. Even if they are vomiting and struggling to keep things down, little sips of water will help to make sure your child does not become dehydrated. It is best to avoid fizzy drinks or fruit juices because they can make the diarrhoea worse. It is OK to continue feeding your baby as normal, whether they are breast or bottle fed.

Occasionally your GP or pharmacist may recommend that your child takes medicine to avoid dehydration. This is usually an oral rehydration solution (ORS) that is dissolvable in water. Drinking them helps to replace any important minerals, salt and glucose that are lost when dehydrated. For children, it is generally recommended that they drink an ORS after every bout of diarrhoea. Because there may be circumstances in which babies should not drink an ORS, it is important to discuss this with your family doctor or pharmacist before giving your little one anything.

If your child is dehydrated, try not to give them any solid food until they are rehydrated again. They may return to their normal diet when they have stopped showing signs of dehydration. If your child is not dehydrated, eating their regular diet is fine. If they do not want to eat anything, make sure they are kept well hydrated until they are ready to have food again.

If your child is in pain as a result of diarrhoea, you can give them liquid ibuprofen or paracetamol to help them feel better. It is important not to use anti-diarrhoeal drugs as they can be dangerous for children. Always make sure that you read the label on all medication to check that it is suitable for your child and to check the correct dose.


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