Diarrhea is unpleasant and potentially dangerous for children and adults alike, but can be particularly scary in younger children. If you have a little one between the ages of one and four, there are some specific strategies to support and help relieve diarrhea that are important to know.
Causes of Diarrhea in Young Children
If you feel that your young child (age 1-4) is getting diarrhea frequently or more often than your older children, you are probably right. Small children, especially toddlers, come into contact with all types of microorganisms due to their hands-on curiosity and because they are too young to practice good personal hygiene. Most cases of diarrhea in young children are caused by their body’s normal response to unwanted microorganisms or other foreign intruders; diarrhea is their body’s natural immune response working to rid itself of the unwanted intruder.
Diarrhea Support for Young Children
The most important factor in diarrhea support for young children is proper hydration. During a bout of diarrhea, the body also rids itself of fluids and important nutrients. Young bodies can quickly become dehydrated, so continuously offering breast milk (for those that nurse) or a store-bought or homemade oral rehydration solution (ORS) is critical in preventing potentially dangerous fluid loss.
It’s fine to also offer water, but young children will likely need extra potassium, sodium, and other nutrients for rehydration so it’s best to pair the water with a more nutrient dense drink like those mentioned above.
Many young children will show signs of a decreased appetite during a bout of diarrhea, which is completely normal in times of illness. Offering foods that are easy to digest and nourishing is the best strategy. Consider homemade vegetable and bone broths, soups, stews, bananas, unsweetened applesauce; it’s best to choose foods that do not include added sugars.
Additionally, DiaResQ, a Food for Special Dietary Use, can be a huge help in relieving diarrhea in children over the age of one. DiaResQ provides beneficial nutrients that help to quickly, effectively, and safely restore proper intestinal function and promote gut health. Having a high-quality probiotic for children on hand can also help to replenish healthy gut bacteria lost during diarrhea.
When to Call the Doctor
While most cases of diarrhea will resolve within a few days and can be addressed with the at-home support strategies discussed above, serious cases of diarrhea that don’t resolve in young children after 24 hours warrant a call to the doctor.
If your child can’t hold down any foods or liquids due to vomiting accompanying their diarrhea, has black, tarry, or bloody stools, has a fever over 102 degrees, hasn’t urinated in 12 hours, or has other symptoms of dehydration, you should seek medical attention.
Diarrhea in young children can be scary, but it is common and will usually pass with some basic support and rest. Don’t hesitate to call the doctor if you’re unsure or worried, and keep DiaResQ on-hand for quick, soothing relief.