Causes of Diarrhea in Babies

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Causes of Diarrhea in Babies
(Carin Araujo)

Diarrhoea is a common problem for babies, but it can be alarming to new parents. The causes of diarrhoea in babies are usually harmless, but severe diarrhoea accompanied by other symptoms can be a sign of a viral or bacterial infection, a parasite, or an allergy.

Viral Infection

Viruses, such as the flu or the common cold, can cause diarrhoea. Diarrhoea caused by viral infections are usually accompanied by a number of other symptoms, including stomach pain, vomiting, fever, aches and pains, and chills. Viruses cannot be eliminated with any medication, and require rest and fluids to clear up on their own in time.

Bacterial Infection

An infection caused by bacteria usually causes diarrhoea along with a fever, stomach pain and bloody stool. Salmonella, staphylococcus and E. coli can all cause diarrhoea. Your baby could also have cramps, fever and bloody stools with a bacterial infection. Bloody stool is always an indicator of a serious problem, and a baby with bloody stools should always be taken to the doctor for treatment.


Parasites that live in the bowel, stomach or intestines usually cause diarrhoea as well as bloating and gas. Parasites are often picked up in day care or other group care settings. Parasites are highly contagious and only go away with medication, so a doctor should be notified if a parasite is suspected.


Many antibiotics and medications cause diarrhoea, as medicine can alter the balance of acid in the stomach. Diarrhoea will usually go away after the medicine is no longer administered, but parents should never stop administering medicine that has been prescribed by a doctor without first consulting the doctor.

Too Much Fruit

High levels of fruit or fruit juice can cause several stomach problems for babies, including diarrhoea, constipation, cramps, bloating and gas due to the excess of sugar that is entering the baby's body. Decreasing the amount of fruit or juice in the baby's diet is one of the first steps that doctors recommend to address stomach problems in babies.

Food Allergy

A food allergy is one of the most common causes of diarrhoea in babies. These allergies can be a result of something that the baby is ingesting directly or something that the baby is ingesting through nursing. The most common foods that babies are allergic to include dairy products, nuts, soy, shellfish and wheat. Food allergies are usually accompanied with other symptoms including gas, stomach pain, hives, rash and difficulty breathing.

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