What is diarrhoea in babies?

Diarrhoea in babies, is much like it is for adult, it  is the passing of three or more loose or liquid stools per day, lasting up to two weeks. It is more the change in stool consistency rather than stool number that is a sign of diarrhoea in a baby.

Healthy newborn stools are usually soft and loose. During the first few months, it may also be common for your baby to pass frequent stools which are yellowish in colour.

Causes of diarrhoea in babies

Most diarrhoea in babies is short-lived. It is usually caused by a virus and may pass without the need for treatment. Other possible causes of your baby’s diarrhoea in babies may include:

  • A food allergy such as Cow’s Milk Allergy (CMA) if your baby is formula fed
  • A change in your baby's diet or a change in your diet (if you are breast-feeding)
  • If your baby is taking antibiotics or if you take antibiotics whilst breast-feeding
  • A stomach bug caused by bacteria
  • In rare cases, baby diarrhoea can be caused by something more serious. So, if symptoms persist, it’s important to contact your healthcare professional

Could my baby have Cows' Milk Allergy?

Milk allergy and milk intolerance are two difference things, but they can both sometimes cause diarrhoea in babies. Diarrhoea is a common symptom for babies with CMA. Babies with CMA usually experience more than just one symptom and these symptoms can be very different from one another.

If you think that your baby has diarrhoea , it may be CMA. You may have even noticed other symptoms (besides diarrhoea), which may affect other parts of your baby’s body.

Changing baby’s diaper
More than 1 in 2 infants with a cows' milk allergy will have diarrhoea as a symptom

For a simple and easy way to understand the symptoms associated with CMA, you can use our symptom checklist. Use our symptom diary to monitor and track your baby’s symptoms.

This will allow you to select all the symptoms that your baby may have that can be cow’s milk-related. You can then discuss these with your doctor.

In any case, if you have any doubts or concerns about your baby’s health, you should always seek advice from a medical professional as soon as possible.

Side effects of diarrhoea in babies

If your baby's diarrhoea comes on suddenly, accompanied with a fever and vomiting or lack of appetite, it's most likely to be a viral infection. This will clear itself, usually within a week.

However, it's important to look out for signs of dehydration. The most common signs and symptoms of dehydration are:

  • Sunken eyes or doughy skin
  • Dry skin or lips
  • Being unresponsive
  • Tearless crying
  • A sunken soft spot on your baby’s head
  • Discoloured hands and feet
  • Strong yellow urine
  • Less wet nappies than usual

If your baby has had six or more episodes of diarrhoea in the last 24 hours you should take her to your GP.

Treatment of baby diarrhoea

In most cases, baby diarrhoea gets better on its own and your baby won’t need medical treatment. You can’t always stop or prevent diarrhoea in babies, but you can help make them more comfortable. You can also prevent dehydration and other complications at home:

  • Keep your baby hydrated and feed your baby as normal so they can stay hydrated
  • Change their nappy often
  • If your baby is on solid foods, you can try them on some bits of dry foods such as pasta, crackers, cereal and bananas
  • Ask your pharmacist or doctor about electrolyte drinks for babies to restore the nutrition they will have lost

What to avoid when your baby has diarrhoea:

  • Cow's milk, other than what is in their formula
  • Fruit juices
  • Fried and processed foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Antidiarrheal medication, unless told otherwise

If your baby’s diarrhoea is caused by a food allergy such as CMA, you can try our infant formula, specifically designed to help manage CMA symptoms.

SmilesBack App

Cows’ milk allergy (CMA) is a common food allergy in baby’s and young children but it is often challenging to diagnose and may take many months and doctors appointments. If you suspect that your baby might have cows’ milk allergy, you can use SmilesBack to help shorten the journey to diagnosis and help put smiles back where they belong.

SmilesBack is an easy-to-use app that has been developed with allergy experts and tested by parents. It enables you to easily record your baby’s symptoms and feeds and summarise them in a one-page, expert-designed report, to support your doctor before they make a diagnosis.



IMPORTANT NOTICE: Breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition for babies and provides many benefits to babies and mothers. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breastmilk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. Always consult your healthcare professional for advice about feeding your baby. The social and financial implications of using infant formula should be considered. Improper use of an infant formula or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use infant formula, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill. Formula for special medical purposes intended for infants must be used under medical supervision.