Children With Loose Stools

by Maggie McCormick
The contents of your baby's diaper may reveal an illness.

The contents of your baby's diaper may reveal an illness.

You may become concerned with the contents of your child's diaper, especially if things seem a bit abnormal. Loose stools are a fairly common problem in children and are usually not something that you should worry about. Still, you should know the causes, how to treat the problem and when to call a doctor.

Loose Stools versus Diarrhea

There is a subtle difference between loose stools and diarrhea. Diarrhea should be almost pure liquid, while loose stools are solid, but don't hold shape. Diarrhea is a more serious illness, which may dehydrate your child, but you should still take note if your child has loose stools.

When to Call Your Child's Doctor

Some children just naturally have looser stools than others. If loose stools are a big change for your child, you can take a "wait it out" approach if your child seems to be acting normal otherwise. If she has a fever or is acting sick, however, you can call her doctor. You should also call your doctor if you notice blood in the stools, which could be a sign of a serious infection.

Possible Causes

Loose stools can be a result of a virus or bacteria in the intestine. Often, though, they come from the types of foods that your child recently ate. Fruits and fruit juices in particular can cause loose stools, as can greasy or fried foods. Your child may also have loose stools if she has irritable bowel syndrome.

BRATY Diet

A BRATY diet can help ease troubled tummies and start to firm up the stools again. This includes bananas, rice or rice cereal, applesauce, toast without butter and yogurt. If you are putting your child on the BRATY diet, you should not be feeding any other foods.

Stool Diary

If loose stools seem to be a persistent problem with your child, you should start keeping a diary of what he is eating and when he seems to have loose stools. Over time, you'll see that there are certain foods that are more likely to cause loose stools, and you can avoid serving those foods. The diary can also help your doctor to diagnose the problem.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

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