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Loose motions in babies might not always suggest diarrhoea

Running motions in babies? Here's what you should know

Written by Debjani Arora |Updated : June 27, 2017 11:34 PM IST

Constantly changing diapers and nappies soaked in yellow watery stool isn t a very satisfying task for a mother. Let s face it, poop isn t all that appealing. But if your baby has been passing stools frequently throughout the day it will definitely raise concern. The first question that comes to your mind is Is my baby suffering from a bout of diarrhoea?

But before you jump to a conclusion and reach out to your paediatrician s clinic to look for a treatment, first understand your baby s stool pattern.

Know what is normal

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An infant s stool pattern is variable. A watery stool might not always mean diarrhoea, a newborn baby who is exclusively breastfed might pass stools as frequently as 15 times a day or once in 3 or 4 days. And both these situations are normal, says Dr Raju Khubchandani, consultant paediatrician Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai further explaining that, If your baby is feeding well, looking healthy, is playful and gains weight consistently, then watery loose motions shouldn t pose a problem for your baby. Many mothers nurse a misconception that breastfeeding might lead to diarrhoea and give up breastfeeding too soon. Here are five kitchen ingredients that could help you counter your baby's colic troubles effectively.

But the same dictum might not hold true for formula fed babies. Formula fed babies might pass stools thicker and harder in consistency. So in their case loose watery stool might indicate an underlying trouble, says Dr Khubchnadani. Also formula fed babies hold ten times greater chance of getting an infection in their stomach than their breastfeed counterparts. In such cases watery stools might call for attention, as it can lead to depletion of vital salts and fluids from the body leading to dehydration.

Diarrhoea is body s own way of eliminating certain offending agents from the system. Your baby s system is still developing and reacts in a different way from that of an adult. So loose watery stool might not always be what you suppose it to be. Here is a new mum's guide to help you change your baby's diaper the right way.

When should you worry:

So now that you know loose motions are not always a sign of danger, don t just rule out all possibilities of any kind of infection or illness. Watery stools can indicate problems if your baby:

  • Has fever along with frequent motions. If your baby is less than a year old this should worry you as it can indicate a serious health threat.
  • Throws up after every feed. Loose motions along with vomiting can indicate an infection in the stomach.
  • Shows signs of dehydration like, excessive thirst, dry tongue, sunken eyes and cries without shedding a tear.
  • Passes urine less frequently and the colour also appear dark.
  • There is blood in the stool. This along with vomiting and loose motions can indicate a bacterial infection in the stomach which needs immediate attention.

What you can do:

If your baby s passes recurrent stools and shows any of the above mentioned symptoms, it s advisable that you meet your paediatrician immediately. Alternatively you can:

  • Make a home-made rehydration solution like rice kunjee which stands to be an excellent home remedy for diarrhoea or loose motions. Cook a handful of rice powder with water for ten minutes to make a thin liquid. Add a teaspoon of salt and more water to make it up to 1 litre. Give your baby spoonfuls of this liquid to replete salts and fluids.
  • Alternatively, make a glass of water with one spoon of sugar and a pinch of salt, this is a tried and tested age old method to treat diarrhoea.
  • Breastfed babies need to be given breast milk only as it has anti-infective factors that may help your baby fight bacterial or viral diarrhoea.
  • Do not force feed your child. A child with diarrhoea needs more liquids than solids. Allow your child to have feeds at his own pace. Remember that it s more necessary for your baby to take feed sip-wise than gulp-wise, and do it frequently, says Dr Khubchandani.
  • If you child's appetite seems diminished, have patience, appetite would return back once your baby gets better.
  • Often a light preparation of dal khichdi is well tolerated in weaned babies. Unnecessary diet alterations are not needed.
  • Use a commercial oral rehydration solution if you aren t able to make one at home.
  • Refrain from using any antibiotics or stool binding medication for your little ones. Diarrhoea in babies is usually viral in nature and antibiotics in this case would hinder the treatment. Antibiotics should not be prescribed unless the investigations suggest a bacterial infection, says Dr Khubchandani. Also while your doctor prescribes medications, ask in details about its side effects. If you are given anti-vomiting drugs make sure you do not feed your baby right after giving the medication. Allow the medicine to settle and then offer a feed at least an hour later, says Dr Khubchandani.

Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of diarrhoea.

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