Diarrhoea in babies

Often breastfed babies will have softer stools than babies drinking infant formula milks. However, diarrhoea is characterised by frequent loose stools.1 Babies are susceptible to diarrhoea as they have a less developed gut than adults. There are different causes of diarrhoea including cow’s milk allergy or lactose intolerance, but a bowel infection (gastroenteritis) is a common cause.2

It is very important babies do not become dehydrated, as this can cause them to become lethargic or irritable. They may also lose their appetite and be unable to pass urine. You should contact your healthcare professional for advice if your baby has passed six or more diarrhoea stools in the past 24 hours.2

If your baby has diarrhoea, make sure you:

  • Give extra fluids
  • Do not stop giving your baby their usual infant formula or breastmilk
  • Make sure everyone in your family washes their hands regularly with soap and warm water to avoid spreading the infection2
  • Don't share towels2
  • Don't take your baby swimming in a swimming pool for two weeks after the last episode of diarrhoea
  • Avoid large quantities of fruit and fruit juice1
  • Reduce dietary fibre intake1

If you have any concerns, please discuss these with your
healthcare professional.


  1. Webster-Gandy J et al. (Eds) Oxford Handbook of Nutrition and Dietetics 1st edition. Oxford Publishing; Oxford 2006 pp 248.
  2. NHS Choices, 2012: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Diarrhoea/Pages/Introduction.aspx Accessed 14th August 2013.

RXANI140098 Date of preparation: March 2014