Infant Diarrhea

A baby doesn't always necessarily have diarrhea; breastfed baby stool is supposed to be loose and quite frequent. Please read more about normal breastfed baby stools here.

The Importance of Breast Milk

Breast milk is the best for a baby, because it provides immune protection as well as gut protection. A baby may be fussy at the breast or sleepy, but most babies will end up breastfeeding more often for comfort when they are ill. Continued breastfeeding will not just help a baby heal faster, but breast milk is much easier to digest than any formula.

Signs and Symptoms of Infant Diarrhea

So then How do you Know if it's Normal or if it’s Diarrhea?

  • Baby is producing more than 12 bowel movements in 24 hours.
  • The stool is watery, not just loose.
  • The stool smells different and may have a foul odor to it.

What Causes Infant Diarrhea?

  • It is caused by any toxin elimination or irritation of the gut.
  • It can be caused by any illness or virus.
  • Food sensitivities, either due to a new food introduced into the baby’s diet or via the food in the mother’s breast milk.
  • Lactose intolerance. Very rare. Read more about lactose intolerance in the breasted baby here.
  • Foremilk / hindmilk imbalance. This is when a baby is drinking too much foremilk (watery milk at the beginning of a feed) and not enough fatty hindmilk (more towards the end of a feed) this usually producing stool that seems like diarrhea and is usually runny, frothy and greenish in color.

 NB – Caretakers should be on the lookout for signs of dehydration when a baby has diarrhea. Breastfeed as much as possible. Read more about dehydration in the breastfed infant here.

Should I give my breastfed baby Pedialyte?

Top of infant diarrhea page

Tracy Behr, CBC, CLD (CBI)

Reference: Breastfeeding counselor course through Childbirth International on the physiology of breastfeeding / Health problems / newborn diarrhea.

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