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Help Your Baby Feel Better

Diarrhea

This is usually caused by a virus (especially a rotavirus); it generally runs its course in three to six days.

Peak age: Can occur at any time in infancy; kids under 5 may have two or three bouts a year.

What to do: Have your child drink an electrolyte-replacement fluid (Pedialyte, Infalyte) for the first 12 hours, to restore water and essential salts.

As he recovers, a normal diet is fine, including "binding" foods like rice, crackers, or bananas. But skip high-sugar apple juice and gelatin desserts (the sugars can irritate the bowels, causing more fluid loss), dairy products, and very hot or very cold drinks, says pediatrics professor Susan Buttross, M.D., at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine, in Jackson.

Don't give over-the-counter antidiarrheal medicines, which can mask symptoms. Call your doctor if you see signs of dehydration (lessened urination, dry mouth, sunken eyes, few tears) or if diarrhea lasts for more than two or three days. Call at once if your baby is vomiting for more than a few hours or is younger than 3 months and has a fever of 100.4°F or more.

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