Q&A: 20-Month-Old Diarrhea

My son is 20 months old and has frequent diarrhea and very soft stools. Should I change his diet?

If he has no other symptoms and is growing well, he probably has what is called "toddlers diarrhea." This is a benign condition that is self-limited -- if you can stand all the diaper changing. You might want to try two dietary changes to see if they are playing a role. The first is a trial of milk, ice cream, and other dairy product restriction. Lactose intolerance can cause loose stools; however, the stools should go back to normal within one week if this is the problem. If lactose intolerance appears to be the problem, you might need to see a dietician to find substitutes for milk that are nutritionally equivalent. The second food to restrict is fruit juice. Some juices, such as apple, pear, and prune, naturally contain sugars that are hard to digest and, if eaten in large quantities, can cause diarrhea. Again, if this is the problem your child's stools will become normal within days after the juice is eliminated. If none of these foods seem to make any difference, it's important to keep your child on a normal regular diet with no restrictions. There are some medicines that can help in this disorder, but you need to see a physician before starting them.

The content on these pages is provided as general information only and should not be substituted for the advice of your physician.

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