Babies - God’s gift to mankind and the only way for the race to survive. They’re the apples of our eyes and the light of our lives. Considering this description, it’s only sane to assume that if anything were to go wrong with the tiny human that is yours, you would, to put it lightly, freak out. This pertains to any and all problems, including very common problems like diarrhoea. So, for your peace of mind, here is a parent’s guide to diarrhoea in babies.
What is diarrhoea?
Diarrhoea in a baby is generally when your baby suddenly poops more than usual and this poop is of a looser, more watery consistency than normal.
How else would I know that my baby has it?
Diarrhoea has a few symptoms that you could look out for - dimensions of your baby’s stool (loose texture, pale colour, etc.), change in eating habits (reduced eating), vomiting and dehydration.
The most important thing to look out for is dehydration, as this is an indicator of severe diarrhoea that will require immediate attention. Some of the signs of dehydration include:
1. Dry lips
2. Dry mouth
3. Crying without tears
4. Lethargy or lack of energy
5. Sunken eyes
What could be the possible causes of diarrhoea in babies?
Diarrhoea could be caused due to many factors, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, food patterns and medicines.
The most common cause of diarrhoea in babies is infections from a virus. This is generally the rotavirus, which is passed through the fecal-oral route due to physical contact with contaminated objects such as hands, toys and other surfaces. Viral infection generally leads to gastroenteritis, which may or may not is accompanied by vomiting. Rotavirus isn’t the only thing that causes this issue. It can be caused by different viruses (adenovirus, calicivirus, astrovirus and influenza), bacteria (salmonella, shigella, staphylococcus, campylobacter or E. coli) and parasites (Giardiasis).
Bacterial infections may also cause blood in the stool, abdominal cramps and a fever. Parasitic infections may also cause bloating, gas and greasy stool.
Another cause of diarrhoea could be certain antibiotics that your baby may be taking. In some cases, these antibiotics also tend to kill the good bacteria in the intestines, thus leading to bacterial, parasitic, or viral infections. Food habits may also lead to diarrhoea if your baby is allergic to a certain type of food.
How do I fix it?
In most cases, diarrhoea experienced is mild diarrhoea. This generally does not require medical attention. The best way to help your baby is to make sure he/she drinks lots of water in order to avoid dehydration. Also, avoid sugary substances, as the sugar in these draws water into the intestines, thus worsening the condition.
In the case of older infants, you could take measures such as balancing out his/her diet better and feeding him/her yogurt, as the bacterial cultures in yogurt help to settle the stomach.
In the case of severe diarrhoea accompanied by dehydration, you need to take additional measures such as making them drink electrolyte water. More importantly, take your child to the doctor or seek medical help in order to know the best course of action, as dehydration is a serious problem that could potentially be life threatening.
The best way to deal with diarrhoea in babies is to prevent it. You can do this by remembering a few simple things.
- Always keep your baby’s environment clean, this includes everything your baby comes in contact with, including you and your partner
- Ensure that you wash your hands well before handling your baby. Also, make sure that the food you feed your child has been washed and cooked to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present.
- Be aware of what goes in your baby’s mouth, including toys, pacifiers, hands, and basically any other object within the reach of your child.
- Remember to keep your baby well-hydrated with a balanced diet.
These few measures can go a long way in ensuring a healthy and happy child, and a happy you.