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Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC

Q&A: How Will I Know if Baby Has Diarrhea?

How can I tell if my breastfed baby has diarrhea?

Exclusively breastfed babies can have frequent, watery bowel movements. Ten such poops a day is not unheard of. As long as the baby is content most of the time, drinking well from the breast, and gaining weight, watery poops are usually not a problem. It doesn’t matter if there is mucus present, if the poops are green or if there are no “curds” — the baby is usually fine. Keep in mind that it is rare for exclusively breastfed babies to have diarrhea since diarrhea is usually due to infection and it’s very unusual for breastfed babies to get gut infections.

But, if your baby is unhappy, not feeding well or appears sick, or if there has been any other change in his usual behavior and mood, then he may have a gut infection and diarrhea. Infectious diarrhea usually gets better without any treatment, often by 5 or 7 days after onset; the main concern is dehydration. One of the best ways to maintain hydration is to continue breastfeeding the baby. Too often mothers are told they have to stop breastfeeding a baby with diarrhea. This is not good advice since breastfeeding is the best way to keep your baby properly hydrated.

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