Pediatric Healthy Eating: Managing Your Child’s Diarrhea
Diarrhea, or three or more loose or watery stools a day can cause loss of water, salts, vitamins and minerals from your child’s body. Managing your child’s diarrhea is important. This handout will help you choose the best foods and fluids to offer to your child.
Eating and drinking tips.
- If your child weighs less than 40 pounds, offer at least four 8-ounce containers of fluid each day.
- If your child weighs more than 40 pounds offer four 8-ounce containers of fluid per day plus an additional 8 ounces for every 10 pounds they weigh over 40.
- Drink liquids between meals.
- Juices, soups, water, jello, sherbet, Popsicles®, and Pedialyte®are all good choices. You may want to try to dilute juices with water. Avoid juices that are high in sorbitol such as apple or pear juice, very sweet drinks like Kool-Aid®, or drinks with caffeine.
- Avoid adult “sport drinks” as they are not made for children.
- Provide smaller amounts of food more often.
- Offer foods that are warm, not hot. Heat causes food to move faster through the bowels.
- Decrease the amount of fat in the diet. Avoid greasy, fried foods, fatty foods, gravies, and fatty sauces.
- Your child can drink milk as long as it doesn’t make the diarrhea worse. Yogurt, puddings, and ice cream also provide fluid.
- Avoid foods that cause gas or cramps: beans, cabbage, spicy foods, and drinks that have bubbles.
- Provide foods that are easy to digest, such as rice cereal, pasta, breads, crackers, mashed potatoes, cooked carrots, applesauce and bananas.
• Avoid giving your child juice, chicken broth, soda pop, sports drinks, ginger ale, or tea. These drinks do not contain the right mixture of minerals and sugar to replace lost fluids and may make the diarrhea worse.
• You can use plain water to replace lost fluids if your child is older than 1 year and is able to eat regular food.
• Offer foods high in potassium to replace what is lost in the stools. Include at least 4 servings per day.
Offer foods high in potassium to replace what is lost in the stools. Include at least 4 servings per day.
High potassium fruits
Orange juice (without pulp)
High potassium vegetables
When to call your doctor.
- Diarrhea lasts longer than 1-2 days or it is getting worse
- If there is blood in the stool.
- If your child is passing urine less than 2 times per day.
- If your child’s eyes appear sunken or if no tears appear when your child cries.
- If your child has extreme thirst.
- If your child is more tired or fussy than usual.
What is the most important thing you learned from this handout?
What changes will you make in your diet/lifestyle, based on what you learned today?
If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the phone numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at www.uwhealth.org/nutrition
Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500.
Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at:
If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the phone numbers listed below.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 09/20/2013
Copyright © 03/06/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#243
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