Whether breastfed or formula fed, infants can unfortunately get diarrhea and it can be especially dangerous to newborns. Read further to learn how to tell whether your newborn's stool is diarrhea or not and when to take a newborn with diarrhea to the pediatrician.
Check Your Newborn Baby’s Stool
The stool of a newborn infant is generally fairly soft. This does not always indicate diarrhea. Newborn diarrhea will be thin and watery. Also watch a newborn's wetting habits. If a newborn normally wets 8-12 diapers per day and is only wetting 6-8 (or less), that is an indicator that diarrhea is causing dehydration.
How Can I Hydrate My Newborn?
A newborn with diarrhea can be treated at home to prevent dehydration, but a pediatrician must still be contacted. Diarrhea can cause loss of vital fluids. Pedialyte (or another oral electrolyte solution) is often recommended by doctors when babies and toddlers are dehydrated. This can help replace the fluids that may be lost during diarrhea. In newborns, the doctor may instead suggest an increase in breastmilk or formula feedings.
When Should the Diarrhea Clear Up?
Mild diarrhea should clear up within a day or so. But if a newborn shows any signs of dehydration, illness, severe diarrhea, or has a fever, do not hesitate to seek medical care. Diarrhea can sometimes be an indication of a virus or bacterial infection. A viral infection is more common than a bacterial infection when it comes to diarrhea causes. Another cause may be parasites.
What Causes Diarrhea in a Newborn Baby?
When the newborn diarrhea is not caused by a virus, bacteria, or parasite, it may be caused by the infant's diet. Fruit juice and any diet other than infant formula or breastmilk can cause newborn diarrhea. Until at least 4 months of age, newborn babies should be fed only breastmilk or infant formula.
Lactose intolerance or other dietary allergies may also cause newborn diarrhea. In an infant who is drinking formula, a pediatrician may recommend switching to a different formula to see if that helps. Never switch infant formulas without the advice of a pediatrician. Babies have very sensitive stomachs and individual dietary needs. Switching formula could upset the baby's digestive system even further. A breastfeeding mom may need to change her own dietary habits for the infant’s benefit.
If your newborn is taking antibiotics for any reason, that could also be the cause of diarrhea. Sometimes antibiotics will cause newborn diarrhea. If this happens, contact the pediatrician. They may decide to use another antibiotic if the diarrhea is severe.
When Should I Take My Newborn to the Doctor for Diarrhea?
Newborns are very delicate and vulnerable. If your newborn has diarrhea, you need to contact your pediatrician right away. A newborn can get dehydrated very easily with diarrhea and this is hazardous to your infant’s health and well-being. Diarrhea can also be symptoms of bigger issues. It may be a simple dietary issue, but only a licensed medical professional should make that diagnosis.
Warning Signs That May Occur With Newborn Diarrhea
Symptoms of Dehydration in Newborns
*Note that the author is not a licensed medical professional. The above is provided for informational purposes. Always consult a licensed medical professional for any advice pertaining to health matters.
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