Toddler and Infant Diarrhea

Toddler or infant diarrhea refers to loose, watery frequent bowel motions (stools, poop, poo) - you know what I'm talking about.

Most diarrhea is acute and lasts a few days to 2 weeks. This is very common in infants and toddlers - read more.

Diarrhea that lasts 4 weeks or more is considered chronic diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea may be an indication that there is a problem with your child - read more.

There are different causes for acute and chronic diarrhea and there are sections for each below.


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Acute Diarrhea

The most common cause of acute toddler or infant diarrhea is a viral infection.

The common virus causing diarrhea is rotavirus but other viruses can also cause diarrhea, even viruses that cause respiratory tract infections.

When your child has a viral infection causing diarrhea, it is called gastroenteritis and there may be associated vomiting - read more

When your child has acute diarrhea the important thing is to keep her fluids up and ensure she doesn't get dehydrated. To read about the signs of dehydration, click here.


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Chronic diarrhea

Chronic toddler or infant diarrhea refers to diarrhea that has persisted beyond 4 weeks. It is important to make sure your child isn't becoming dehydrated with the diarrhea - read more.

As long as your child isn't dehydrated, the important thing to note is whether she is growing normally.

  • If your child is growing well but has frequent stools (poop, poo), the commonest cause is toddler diarrhea. This is a benign condition and is commonly seen in toddlers who drink a lot, particularly juice. It settles by itself as your child grows older and drinks less. It is not a problem as the child is growing and no treatment is necessary, other than advice to limit juice intake and perhaps probiotics - read more.
  • If your child has chronic diarrhea and is not growing well - either in weight or length - she may have a problem with absorbing food, called malabsorption.

Malabsorption can make the stools smelly and they can look greasy. If your child has very smelly loose frequent stools (poop, poo) and is not growing well, you need to see your doctor for further investigation.

Malabsorption can be caused by a number of diseases including:

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To go to the top of the Infant Diarrhea page, click here

To read about Green Diarrhea, click here

To read How to Stop Diarrhea, click here

To read about Gastroenteritis, click here

To read about the signs of Dehydration, click here

To go to the Toddler Diarrhea page, click here

To return to the Home page, click here


Last reviewed on 26 May 2011

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Dr Maud MD

Dr Maud MD (MBChB, FRACP, FRCPCH), a specialist pediatrician, provides health information and medical advice for parents of babies and toddlers. Read more about Dr Maud.



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