There are several foods that can cause toddler diarrhea, including:
- Milk and dairy products (except yogurt) -- milk protein allergy is one of the more common food allergies seen in toddlers. These products can also cause diarrhea in toddlers with lactose intolerance.
- Apple juice, pear juice, and cherry juice -- these juices contain sorbitol, which is a complex sugar that can be hard for toddlers to digest. White grape juice is a good alternative.
If your toddler has had diarrhea for more than 24 hours, call his or her healthcare provider. You should also call your toddler's healthcare provider if your toddler has:
- Watery diarrhea with repeated vomiting
- Stool containing blood, mucus, or pus
- A temperature above 101.4 degrees Fahrenheit
- Severe diarrhea (more than eight bowel movements in eight hours)
- Signs of dehydration, such as:
- Frequent crying or irritability
- Sunken abdomen, eyes, or cheeks
- Listlessness or irritability
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Skin that does not flatten when pinched and released.
Toddlers with diarrhea present special concerns because of their smaller body size. This small body size puts them at greater risk for dehydration from diarrhea. Therefore, treatment for toddler diarrhea is focused on preventing, or if necessary, treating symptoms, such as dehydration, that occur as a result of the diarrhea.
Preventing or treating dehydration in toddlers focuses on replacing lost fluid and electrolytes (sodium and potassium). Giving special fluids by mouth (oral rehydration therapy) is the most effective way of doing this. Oral rehydration treatments (such as Pedialyte® or Infalyte®) can help prevent most dehydration. You can find these special fluids in most pharmacies and grocery stores; they can be purchased without a prescription.
Rehydration fluids have a brief shelf life. Once a bottle has been opened or a mix prepared, it must be used or thrown out within 24 hours because bacteria rapidly grow in the solution. A toddler could easily drink three or four bottles of the fluid during an illness.
Remember that oral rehydration therapy will not stop the diarrheal illness. In fact, the toddler may have even more episodes of diarrhea until the illness runs its course.
Remember, never restrict fluids when your child has diarrhea.