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Toddler's Diarrhoea

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Should I Be Worried About Toddlers’ Diarrhea?


When your toddler has diarrhea, there are steps to take and signs to watch out for. Also called chronic/nonspecific childhood diarrhea, the symptoms can show up in babies aged 6 months to pre-schoolers of 5 years.

Toddlers’ diarrhea main symptoms:

  • Loose, watery stools

  • Diaper leakage

  • Passing stools three or more times a day

  • Upset stomach

  • Lasts more than one or two days (chronic diarrhea)

  • Child is awake when passing stool

  • Stool may contain food particles

  • Diarrhea can sometimes be intermittent

Your child will still continue to gain weight and grow within normal levels even if they have Toddlers’ Diarrhea, so long as the child’s diet contains enough calories.

What are the causes of Toddlers’ Diarrhea?

Medical practitioners have not been able to pinpoint what makes Toddlers’ Diarrhea pass food and drink through the colon at a faster rate. While this decreases the volume of fluid the colon is able to absorb, it will not lead to dehydration if the child is receiving adequate liquids in their diet.

As some children drink over and above the required level of liquids, sometimes in the form of sodas and sweetened fruit juices, this could be the cause of looser bowel movements.

How is Toddlers’ Diarrhea different from chronic diarrhea?

Depending on the particular strain of bacteria or the cause of your child’s chronic diarrhea, you may also observe the following:

  • Chills

  • Fever

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Cramping

  • Pain in the abdomen

More severe symptoms can include blood in the stools but a checking always needs to be done, as it’s very easy to confuse beetroot and tomato in the stool with blood.

If you notice an increase in your toddler’s bowel movements, it could be due to a perfectly harmless reason. Many children have naturally fast metabolisms which causes them to pass stool more frequently. Other children have a quicker gastrocolic reflex, and this causes them to pass stool immediately after eating something. However, Toddlers’ Diarrhea doesn’t display symptoms other than passing frequent stools. If you are unsure if your child has diarrhea or is simply metabolising food faster, visit your general practitioner.

Diarrhea Severity Indicator

Mild diarrhea is when your child passes a few mushy or loose stools, over and above their normal bowel elimination pattern.

Severe diarrhea is when your child passes many frequent watery stools and exhibit other symptoms besides frequent, loose bowel movements.

What causes chronic diarrhea in babies, toddlers, and pre-school children?

The most common childhood disorders or diseases that cause diarrhea include:

  • Digestive tract infection

  • Coeliac disease

  • Food allergies or food intolerances

  • Bacteria overgrowth in the small intestine

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

  • Functional GI disorders

  • Viral infections like gastroenteritis (literally translated as inflammation of the gut)

  • Parasites

  • Something new your child recently ate or drank

  • A side effect from a recent diet of clear fluids (also called starvation stools)

Your child is building up their immunity levels all the time, but sometimes a bacteria can make its way to the gut and cause nonspecific diarrhea. This is when the food and liquids in the colon move through the digestive tract very quickly, and this leaves the digestive system not enough time to absorb the nutrients from the food, or water from the liquids.

Some foods and liquids your toddler drinks and eats can cause Toddler’s Diarrhea-related symptoms:

  • Energy drinks/bars/lollies

  • Fruit juices and fruit juice mixes

  • Anything eaten with a high concentration of sugars

  • Food and drinks containing xylitol and sorbitol

  • Food and drinks high in corn syrup 

Foodborne illnesses and intolerances

Bacteria, parasitical infestations, and harmful viruses can lead to chronic diarrhea. Infections can be transmitted via food, beverages, contaminated water, and person to person contact. Additionally, after any bout of illness, your child could experience problems digesting soy or dairy products. Prolonged diarrhea – lasting as long as six weeks – can occur after an infection.

Some bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections causing diarrhea will not disappear without treatment. It’s not simply a case of your child building up an immunity.

What am I likely to hear when I take my child to the doctor for Toddlers’ Diarrhea?

Your doctor will ask you several question about the consistency, colour, and frequency of your child’s stool. They may even ask you to give a stool sample from your child to be sent for testing. They will evaluate all tests for possible causes. Some of the diseases the doctor might be considering are:

C. difficile infection- one of these infections could be the cause of your child’s Toddlers’ Diarrhea. The treatment is antibiotics.

Coeliac disease – gluten sensitivity. Diagnosis is possible after blood tests.

Inflammatory bowel disease/IBD – long-term, chronic intestinal inflammation

Malabsorption – bowel struggles to fully absorb nutrients and calories

Lactose intolerance – child struggles to absorb dairy products. Can be improved by reduction in dairy in the diet.


What can I do to help treat my child’s Toddlers’ Diarrhea?

You’ve taken the first step in helping your child by reading this article and taking your child to the doctor for tests. More ways you can help your child’s Toddlers’ Disease are:

1. Avoid sugary drinks and food, especially ones containing fructose and/or sorbitol. Recommended servings for small children are under 170 grams a day.

2. Avoidance of high-sugar content liquids and foods. Only give your child the RDA of milk for their age group, and supply water as requested.

3. A daily fibre supplement can add bulk to stools.

4. Increasing fat in the diet can lessen the chance of Toddlers’ Diarrhea.

5. Unless directed to do so by your doctor, avoid tampering with your child’s normal diet and RDA of nutrients and vitamins.

6. Only on very rare occasions will your doctor recommend long-term medication. All medications prescribed for Toddlers’ Diarrhea should only be used under the guidance of your medical practitioner.

Important Note: The information on this page is only intended as a basic guide and provision of general information about Toddlers’ Diarrhea. It is not intended for use in diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your GP regarding your child’s specific condition.

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