Foods that bind babies

When your child has diarrhea: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

Diarrhea is the passage of loose or watery stools. For some children, diarrhea is mild and will go away within a few days. For others, it may last longer. It can make your child lose too much fluid (dehydrated) and feel weak.

The stomach flu is a common cause of diarrhea. Medical treatments, such as antibiotics and some cancer treatments can also cause diarrhea.

This article speaks of diarrhea in children over 1 year of age.

It is easy for a child with diarrhea to lose too much fluid and become dehydrated. Lost fluids need to be replaced. For most children, drinking the kinds of fluids they normally have should be enough.

Some water is OK. But too much water alone, at any age, can be harmful.

Other products, such as Pedialyte and Infalyte, may help keep a child well-hydrated. These products can be bought at the supermarket or pharmacy.

Popsicles and Jell-O can be good sources of fluids, especially if your child is vomiting. You can slowly get large amounts of fluids into children with these products.

You may also give your child watered-down fruit juice or broth.

Do not use medicines to slow down your child's diarrhea without talking to a doctor first. Ask your child's health care provider if using sports drinks is OK.

In many cases, you can continue feeding your child as usual. The diarrhea will normally go away in time, without any changes or treatment. But while children have diarrhea, they should:

  • Eat small meals throughout the day instead of 3 big meals.
  • Eat some salty foods, such as pretzels and soup.

When necessary, changes in the diet may help. No specific diet is recommended. But children often do better with bland foods. Give your child foods such as:

  • Baked or broiled beef, pork, chicken, fish, or turkey
  • Cooked eggs
  • Bananas and other fresh fruits
  • Applesauce
  • Bread products made from refined, white flour
  • Pasta or white rice
  • Cereals such as cream of wheat, farina, oatmeal, and cornflakes
  • Pancakes and waffles made with white flour
  • Cornbread, prepared or served with very little honey or syrup
  • Cooked vegetables, such as carrots, green beans, mushrooms, beets, asparagus tips, acorn squash, and peeled zucchini
  • Some desserts and snacks, such as Jell-O, popsicles, cakes, cookies, or sherbet
  • Baked potatoes

In general, removing seeds and skins from these foods is best.

Use low-fat milk, cheese, or yogurt. If dairy products are making the diarrhea worse or causing gas and bloating, your child may need to stop eating or drinking dairy products for a few days.

Children should be allowed to take their time returning to their normal eating habits. For some children, a return to their regular diet can also bring a return of diarrhea. This is often due to mild problems the gut has while absorbing regular foods.

Children should avoid certain kinds of foods when they have diarrhea, including fried foods, greasy foods, processed or fast foods, pastries, donuts, and sausage.

Avoid giving children apple juice and full-strength fruit juices, as they can loosen stool.

Have your child limit or cut out milk and other dairy products if they are making diarrhea worse or causing gas and bloating.

Your child should avoid fruits and vegetables that can cause gas, such as broccoli, peppers, beans, peas, berries, prunes, chickpeas, green leafy vegetables, and corn.

Your child should also avoid caffeine and carbonated drinks at this time.

When children are ready for regular foods again, try giving them:

  • Bananas
  • Crackers
  • Chicken
  • Pasta
  • Rice cereal

Call your child's provider if your child has any of these symptoms:

  • Much less activity than normal (not sitting up at all or not looking around)
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry and sticky mouth
  • No tears when crying
  • Not urinated for 6 hours
  • Blood or mucus in the stool
  • Fever that does not go away
  • Stomach pain

Easter JS. Pediatric gastrointestinal disorders and dehydration. In: Bakes KM, Buchanan JA, Moreira ME, Byyny R, Pons PT, eds. Emergency Medicine Secrets. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 65.

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.

Schiller LR, Sellin JH. Diarrhea. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 16.

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.

Browse the Encyclopedia

Diarrhea in Babies and Toddlers

AndieM.Ed., RD, LDN, CLC, RYT-200

Read time: 5 minutes

What should you know about diarrhea in older babies and toddlers?
  • Learn about the common causes of baby and toddler diarrhea

  • Understand which fluids are best for hydration

  • Know which foods to emphasize and limit when your child has diarrhea

Who knew that one of the biggest things we would do as parents is think and talk about poop so much? We pay close attention to our little one’s poop pattern, whether they have 3 bowel movements per day, go once every 3 days, or somewhere in between (all of which are completely normal!).

While the pattern may shift over time, especially as your child transitions to solid food,1 deviations from their norm can be both uncomfortable for them and alarming for you, especially when that change involves diarrhea.

Acute versus Chronic Diarrhea

Acute diarrhea: When your little one has diarrhea for just a few days (less than 3 weeks)2

Chronic diarrhea: When your little one has on-going diarrhea for longer than 3 weeks2

Signs that your older baby or toddler has diarrhea may include:
  • A sudden increase in how often your child passes stool

  • More than one stool per feeding

  • Stools that appear to be less formed and more watery than usual

  • Urgency: needing to get to the bathroom right away

  • Abdominal pain and/or bloating2,3

What are common causes of baby and toddler diarrhea?
  • A virus

  • A change in your baby’s diet or your diet if you’re breastfeeding

  • Antibiotic use by your child or, if you’re breastfeeding, by you

  • Bacterial food-borne illness, in which case medications may be needed for treatment (call your child’s healthcare provider immediately if you suspect food-borne illness)

  • Lactose intolerance (which could lead to chronic diarrhea)2,4

It’s important to treat your child’s diarrhea promptly, as the most immediate risk for most children is dehydration. 5 If your child has diarrhea, be sure to watch for symptoms of dehydrations.

Early symptoms of dehydration in babies and toddlers:
  • Plays less than usual

  • Urinates less than usual

  • no tears while crying

  • dry, parched mouth6

Advanced symptoms of dehydration in babies and toddlers:
  • Very fussy or irritable

  • excessive sleepiness

  • urine that looks darker and smells stronger than usual, and only 1 to 2 per day

  • sunken eyes and fontanels (the soft spots on your baby’s head)

  • hands and feet that feel cold and look discolored6

Read more: How can I tell if my child is adequately hydrated?

What should I do about my baby or toddler’s diarrhea? 
Make sure your child gets plenty of fluids

A first line of home remedies for diarrhea in toddlers and babies is additional fluids. 7

Under 12 months: Provide breastmilk and/or formula

Over 12 months: Provide breastmilk, cow’s milk / milk alternative, and water.2,3

If your little one seems to get bloated or gassy after drinking cow’s milk, ask their healthcare provider if it should be avoided.3

Read more: Dairy Sensitivity in Babies and Toddlers

Should your child has worsening diarrhea and/or is showing little interest in her usual drinks, try these alternatives while also checking in with her healthcare provider:

  • Smoothies – try blending banana, coconut water, and ice or just melon and water (but skip the berries until your child is feeling better)

  • Whole fruit-based popsicles – like smoothies, popsicles are another means for delivering fluids to a child resistant to drinking

if your child is suffering from prolonged or more severe diarrhea, their healthcare provider might recommend a rehydration / electrolyte drink. Be sure to only use commercial prepared pediatric rehydration drinks.3

Fluids to Avoid: Unlike pediatric electrolyte drinks; Jell-o, soda / soft drinks, juice, and sports drinks often do not have the correct mixture of sugar, salt, and fluids, and may make your little one more sick.3, 4

If juice is the only fluid your child will drink, try diluting it: 1 ounce of juice to 4 ounces of water.

Emphasize healthy foods

In addition to hydration, attention to diet can be important.8 While in the past the BRAT diet was recommended, this is no longer considered beneficial.3 Most little ones can resume eating a healthy balanced diet within a day or so after getting sick. Include fruits, vegetables, proteins, and complex carbohydrates.3

Sometimes emphasizing foods that bind stool as well as those that provide more fluids may help. Smaller more frequently meals may also provide some relief.8

Focus on the following foods:

  • Binding foods (foods high in soluble fiber):13 

    Green bananas (not overly ripe), applesauce, toast, cereals (oatmeal, cream of wheat), skinless potatoes, and white rice.

  • Easily-digested fruits with high water content: Cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon

  • Easily-digested proteins: Eggs, white meat chicken, and white flaky fish

  • A sprinkle of salty foods: Pretzels, saltines, and broth-based soups

  • Cooked (and peeled) mild vegetables: Carrots, green beans, squash, zucchini, and potato2,8

Restrict the following foods:

  • Food high in fat and sugar like fried foods, ice cream, pastries, sausage/bacon, and fast foods

  • Any foods you notice make your child’s diarrhea worse

  • Foods that naturally may cause loose stools, such as: prunes (dried plums) and full-strength juice.8

If you have questions about your child’s diet, reach out to our team of registered dietitians and lactation consultants for free! They are here to help on our free live chat from Monday – Friday, 8am-6pm (ET). Chat with them now!

Do probiotics help with baby and toddler diarrhea?

The helpfulness of probiotics in children with diarrhea is debated, with some research showing no help and others indicating it may promote some improvements. 9, 10 

For more information, check in with your child’s healthcare provider.

Read more: Probiotics 101

Does my baby need an anti-diarrheal medication?

Anti-diarrheal medications are sold over the counter (as well as by prescription) but in most cases should not be used. Chat with your child’s healthcare provider before considering an anti-diarrheal.3, 5, 8

Protect against diaper rash

Some wipes contain alcohol, fragrance, and other chemicals, so you may choose to keep your little one’s tush comfortable and clean by using water-dampened cloths instead of baby wipes. 11 To do this, gently wipe baby’s bottom with the dampened cloth and patting dry or air-dry. You may also opt for wipes that are free of potentially irritating chemicals.

Allow your child’s bottom to dry completely before applying a protective ointment or cream. The cream will help provide a barrier between what’s in your baby’s diaper and your little one’s tush – but it will only help if applied to a dry bottom. 11

Frequent diaper changes (or even some diaper-free time!) may also help.12

Call your child’s healthcare provider if you have concerns

If your child is experiencing any of the following, contact your healthcare provider:

  • Dehydration

  • Vomiting and an inability to keep any fluids down

  • Diarrhea containing blood, mucus, or pus, or that is black and tarry

  • A fever higher than 102*F or a fever and diarrhea lasting for more than 2 days

  • More than 8 stools in 8 hours

  • A significant change in behavior concurrent with diarrhea

  • Other signs of illness

  • You suspect your baby or toddler’s diarrhea is related to food-borne illness

Let’s Chat!

We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.

Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitians certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday through Friday, from 8am–6pm (ET). Chat Now!

Read more about the experts that help write our content.

For more on this topic, check out the following articles:

Alternatives to naturally and artificially sweetened beverages and juices

Choosing milk and milk alternatives for your baby and toddler

How can I tell if my baby is adequately Hydrated?

The pros and cons of cups, sippy cups, and straws for babies and toddlers

Storing baby food

How Do I Help My Breastfed Baby with Diarrhea and Constipation?

Weak and strong: which foods will relieve constipation and which will relieve diarrhea



itself or laxative products. In addition, diarrhea can be the result of eating spoiled food, a sign of poisoning, an intestinal infection, or an allergic reaction to certain food components. A separate option is lactase deficiency, which many mistakenly take for the “fresh cucumber with milk” or “herring with milk” effect.

The problem here is not the herring or the cucumber, but the whole milk. Many adults and some children do not digest lactose, the milk sugar from milk, poorly. This leads to bloating, fermentation and diarrhea. What other products can affect the stool, whether it is possible to solve digestive problems with their help, the therapist, gastroenterologist of the Moscow Clinic Valeria Trapeznikova told Doctor Peter.

General practitioner, gastroenterologist

If you want to relax, drink milk

Diarrhea (or, more simply, diarrhea, loose stools) is an increase in stools more than 3 times a day. Loose stools and severe diarrhea can be due to many reasons, one of which is the use of foods that form a laxative effect. That is, some products, consumed in a certain amount, change the frequency of stools per day and the nature of feces. First of all, fermented milk products (kefir, fermented baked milk, curdled milk, yoghurts) should be referred to them.

It is worth noting here that dairy products containing whole cow's milk (and the milk of any other animals - goat, camel, mare) can additionally cause symptoms of bloating in the abdomen and severe diarrhea. They are not recommended for people who are lactose intolerant. This is a condition in which the intestines lack the enzyme that breaks down milk sugar, lactose.

When there is not enough enzyme (or none at all), lactose, milk sugar, enters the large intestine. Bacteria live in it, which enjoy lactose, producing lactic acid, carbon dioxide and water. Gases accumulate, provoking bloating, lactic acid irritates the intestinal walls - bloating and thinning of the stool occur.

Fiber will help cure constipation

In addition to fermented milk products, foods with fiber (coarse plant fibers) can help relieve constipation. For example, foods containing a large amount of indigestible or partially digestible fiber have a laxative effect - these are mainly vegetables, fruits, cereals. If you want to help yourself with constipation, consider the following products:

  1. Bulgarian pepper,

  2. Cucumber,

  3. spinach,

  4. Greens,

  5. Broccoli,

  6. Capacity,

  7. 9000 9000 Capustr ,

  8. Green grapes,

  9. Plum,

  10. Bunas,

  11. Kuraga,

  12. Flax Seed,

  13. whole grain rye bread,

  14. oat bran.

They are recommended for those who suffer from chronic constipation. However, it is important to remember that without enough water, these products will not work as effectively. The fact is that fiber absorbs water, swells. Accordingly, this water must be taken from somewhere. Therefore, to combat constipation, eat vegetables and drink water.

How to stop diarrhea

There is not only a group of products that have a pronounced laxative effect. There are also foods that, on the contrary, can fix the stool and complicate the act of defecation, if the stool becomes very hard.

These include:

  1. Rice is the most popular product for acute stool disorders. Rice broth and porridge on the water are recommended for people who suffer from diarrhea on the background of SARS, intestinal infections, acute poisoning or allergies, loosening the stool after taking antibiotics.

  2. Potatoes, jelly and other starchy products. They have an enveloping effect, soothe the intestinal wall, helping to stop diarrhea.

  3. Berries: blueberries, bird cherry, chokeberry. They contain fixing components, astringent and enveloping the walls of the intestine.

  4. Strong black tea - tannins have an astringent effect.

  5. Black and red grapes,

  6. Bananas.

Please note that this is a general product listing. Each person has their own individual reactions to a particular product, and they may differ from the generally accepted ones.

Individual reactions to foods

In some people, but not in the general population, certain foods can cause acute diarrhea as a variant of food intolerance. Moreover, this is a dose-dependent effect: the more dangerous product is taken, the longer you sit in the toilet, cleansing the intestines. Among the most basic irritants are:

  1. Alcohol, especially wine and beer;

  2. Spicy foods and dishes;

  3. Kiwifruit, broccoli;

  4. Coffee - some only black, others only with milk;

  5. Products with sweeteners - Sorbitol and fructose from 0% sugar diet drinks are especially weak.

This is not a food allergy, but an intestinal reaction, irritation due to food components. If you remove these foods from the diet, diarrhea will quickly stop.

Alena Paretskaya


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