Children who have diarrhea may have less energy, dry eyes, or a dry, sticky mouth. They may also not wet their diaper as often as usual.
Give your child fluids for the first 4 to 6 hours. At first, try 1 ounce (2 tablespoons or 30 milliliters) of fluid every 30 to 60 minutes. You can use:
- An over-the-counter drink, such as Pedialyte or Infalyte -- do not water down these drinks
- Pedialyte frozen fruit pops
If you are nursing, keep breastfeeding your infant. If you are using formula, use it at one half strength for 2 to 3 feedings after the diarrhea starts. Then begin regular formula feedings again.
If your child throws up, give only a little bit of fluid at a time. You can start with as little as 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes.
When your child is ready for regular foods, try:
- Rice cereal
- Apple juice
- Fried foods
- Full-strength fruit juice
The BRAT diet was recommended by some health care providers in the past. There is not a lot of evidence that it is better than a standard diet for upset stomach, but it probably can't hurt.
BRAT stands for the different foods that make up the diet:
- Rice cereal
Bananas and other solid foods are most often not recommended for a child who is actively vomiting.
WHEN TO CONTACT THE HEALTH CARE PROVIDER
Contact your child's provider if your child has any of these symptoms:
- Blood or mucus in the stool
- Dry and sticky mouth
- Fever that does not go away
- Much less activity than normal (is not sitting up at all or looking around)
- No tears when crying
- No urination for 6 hours
- Stomach pain
When your infant has diarrhea; When your baby has diarrhea; BRAT diet; Diarrhea in children
Kotloff KL. Acute gastroenteritis in children. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 366.
Larson-Nath C, Gurram B, Chelimsky G. Disorders of digestion in the neonate. In: Martin RJ, Fanaroff AA, Walsh MC, eds. Fanaroff and Martin's Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 83.
Nguyen T, Akhtar S. Gastroenteritis. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 84.
Review Date 8/10/2021
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.