Q: My breastfed baby has had diarrhea for the past week. Should I be worried?
A: Before you start to worry, be sure your baby actually has diarrhea. The bowel movements of most breastfed babies tend to be very loose, yellow, and seedy. Although they may resemble what we would consider diarrhea, this is actually totally normal. The best way to diagnose diarrhea is to look at the frequency of your baby's poops, not just the texture. When a baby is very young (less than a month) it's typical to see a bowel movement every time she eats or even more often. After a month, the dirty diapers should slow down to about three or four a day; after two months, they can be as infrequent as one a day or even one a week.
But if your baby has diarrhea, she'll poop twice or even three times as much normal, so count how many dirty diapers she has over a day and check out her overall mood and well-being. If you suspect it is diarrhea, it's likely due to some kind of stomach bug, which usually can't be treated with medication and has to pass on its own. The real worry with too much diarrhea is dehydration, and young babies can get dehydrated very quickly. If at any point your baby starts running a fever, has too many bowel movements in a 24-hour period, has not had a wet diaper in eight hours or more, has a dry mouth or appears listless, then you should call your pediatrician right away. She may want you to bring your baby in to be examined so she can rule out any other possible causes, like food allergies.
Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.