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How To Help A Baby With Diarrhea

How To Manage Your Baby's Diarrhea Symptoms

Camille Freking, MS Pharmacology Profile Photo

Written by Camille Freking, MS Pharmacology on October 22, 2021

As babies and children try new foods, their digestive systems may not always know how to react. Babies commonly experience digestion issues like diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, acid reflux, and colic, and many of these conditions can be improved with simple tips and small dietary changes. Helping a baby with diarrhea may not be as complicated as you think.

Common Gastrointestinal Problems in Infants and Children

As babies and children get older and try new foods, their digestive tracts must adjust to digesting new foods and beverages. Sometimes, your little one may eat or drink something that doesn’t agree with them, causing gastrointestinal issues.

There are five types of common gastrointestinal issues in infants and children: diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, acid reflux, and colic.


When your child is an infant, particularly in the newborn stage, it can be challenging to know at first if they have diarrhea or normal bowel movements. A baby’s first bowel movement is called meconium and consists of greenish-black substances that build up in the intestines while the baby is in utero.

Eventually, formula-fed babies will start to have yellow, formed stool, while breastfed babies are likely to have stool that is softer, seedy, and yellow-green in color.

By contrast, diarrhea will appear watery and very loose and will happen much more frequently than other types of bowel movements.

Because babies and children are so much smaller than adults, diarrhea is serious and can quickly lead to severe dehydration. It’s important to talk to your child’s pediatrician right away if they experience diarrhea.


Constipation occurs when your baby or child has fewer bowel movements than normal. The stool may become hard and appear like pellets and may be painful to pass, making your child cry or arch their back while trying to have a bowel movement.

Infants have weak abdominal muscles and may appear to strain during bowel movements, but if they have a soft bowel movement, they are not considered constipated.

Infants most often experience constipation when they start eating solid foods, as this change in diet requires an adjustment of the digestive system. Children also often prefer to eat processed foods and may have a difficult time getting enough fiber into their diets; fiber is important to encourage regular bowel movements.


While spitting up small amounts of milk after feedings is common in infants, forceful or projectile vomiting can be a sign of an illness or medical problem.

Some infants vomit because they have an intolerance to formula or a trace of something that the mother has consumed in her diet, which can transfer into breast milk. Vomiting can also occur as a result of overfeeding. Vomiting typically occurs in children as a result of an illness.


Babies have a weak esophageal sphincter, which means that many suffer reflux on a regular basis. Some babies, in particular, may seem to constantly spit up, gag, or choke while being fed. This occurs when the contents of the stomach back up into the esophagus, which can be painful. Food intolerances may sometimes be the cause of reflux in your baby.


Colic is a common condition that typically occurs during the first three to four months of a baby’s life. It consists of prolonged or excessive crying in an otherwise healthy infant and typically begins by about three weeks of age.

While the cause of colic is not known, many people suspect that colic is caused by belly cramps or gas. Others suspect that colic may occur as a result of a milk allergy or sensitivity to certain ingredients in formula or components in breast milk.

How To Help a Baby With Gastrointestinal Issues

Seeing your child suffer is a horrible feeling, especially when they are unable to properly digest food. While gastrointestinal issues are unpleasant for parents and kids alike, there are a number of ways you can help.

How To Help a Baby With Diarrhea

When helping a baby with diarrhea, the most important thing is to keep your baby hydrated. Continue to breastfeed or formula feed as normal.

Depending on the age of your baby, ask your pediatrician whether it might be helpful to give them an electrolyte drink for infants like Pedialyte, which can help replenish lost fluids and salt.

If your baby is eating solid foods, feed them a bland diet with simple carbohydrates that are easy to digest, such as crackers, bananas, pasta, and cereal. Avoid foods and drinks that are known to make diarrhea worse, such as dairy products (including cow’s milk), fruit juices, fried foods, spicy foods, and electrolyte drinks made for adults.

Babies should not be given antidiarrheal medication unless you are directed to do so by your child’s pediatrician. However, your infant may benefit from taking a dietary supplement that contains probiotics, such as Genexa Probiotics for Infants.

Probiotic supplements may help support a healthy digestive and immune system, and Genexa’s organic formula is free of the artificial dyes, flavors, and preservatives.

How to Help a Baby With Constipation

When your baby is constipated, the best way to help is by making small dietary changes. Babies are too young to use stimulant laxatives, but they can benefit from increased intake of water or a small serving of 100 percent fruit juice in addition to feedings.

Fruit juices naturally contain sorbitol, which acts as a laxative and can help your baby pass stool more easily. Children who are eating solid foods can be given pureed blends of foods with high fiber content, such as peas or prunes.

Kids ages two and older can use a natural laxative like Genexa Kids’ Senna Laxative to relieve constipation. Senna is a natural laxative that can provide relief from constipation in about 6 to 12 hours, and the chewable tablets of the Genexa formula are easy for kids to take.

How To Help a Baby With Vomiting

While spitting up a small amount of milk is normal in newborn babies, forceful or projectile vomiting is not. If your baby is vomiting more than normal, try feeding them smaller amounts at more frequent intervals in order to prevent overfeeding.

If you are confident that your baby is not being overfed and you are using formula, try switching to a different type of formula or using non-dairy milk.

Babies can also vomit as a result of sensitivity to something in the mother’s diet that passes through breast milk, so the mother’s diet may need to change if a breastfed baby is vomiting.

It is recommended that you speak to your child’s pediatrician if you notice them vomiting more than small amounts of milk.

How To Help a Baby With Reflux

Because babies do not have a strong esophageal sphincter, and most of the tips for helping a baby with reflux involve keeping them in an upright position during and after eating. It is helpful to keep your child in an upright position for about 30 minutes after feeding, if possible, and hold them upright during the feeding as well.

When feeding, burp your baby often and handle them gently during and after feedings.

Try feeding smaller amounts on a more frequent basis to aid in digestion and help prevent stomach contents from backing up into the esophagus.

It can also be helpful to make sure that your baby’s diaper isn’t too tight and to burp them often during feedings.

How To Help a Baby With Colic

Doctors do not know exactly what causes children to develop colic, but they have a few theories. There are several different things you can try to help a baby with colic.

First, if your baby has colic and is breastfed, consider making changes to the nursing mother’s diet to eliminate dairy products, caffeine, and foods that produce a lot of gas, such as beans and cruciferous vegetables.

If your baby is formula-fed and using a cow’s milk-based formula, try switching them to a soy-based formula or a different formula base to see if symptoms improve.

Some infants may be overly sensitive to lights, sounds, and other stimulation, so try and keep the environment around them as calm as possible.


Babies and children commonly experience gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, reflux, and colic.

The best way to address many of these issues is to make small changes in the child’s diet. To help a baby with diarrhea, make sure to keep them hydrated by offering water, breastmilk, or formula in normal amounts.

Using infant probiotics may also help support your baby’s digestive system and immune system.