Diarrhea in toddlers can be characterized by looser-than-normal stools that occur more frequently than usual for your child. It can be caused by a bacteria, a virus, a food allergy or intolerance, or by a disruption in the way your child's intestines are functioning, according to pediatrician and author Dr. Sears. If your toddler has blood in his stools, severe abdominal pain, lethargy or prolonged diarrhea, contact his doctor. Most mild cases of diarrhea, however, can be managed at home.
Keep Your Child Hydrated
The main complication of most forms of diarrhea is the risk of dehydration. Offer your child clear liquids such as water, white grape juice and clear broth often. If you are still breast feeding her, offer to nurse frequently. Since diarrhea can also deplete the body of electrolytes, offer her an electrolyte replacement drink, such as Gatorade or Pedialyte. If she does not want to drink fluids, let her suck on popsicles or ice chips.
Try the BRAT Diet
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the BRAT Diet for toddlers with diarrhea. The BRAT diet consists of bananas, rice, applesauce and unbuttered toast. These foods are bland, so they will not upset a delicate stomach. They also tend to be binding, and bananas contain potassium, which your toddler needs to replace after a bout with diarrhea. Once the BRAT diet is started, over the next 48 hours, gradually introduce fruits and vegetables back into your toddler's diet. If these are well tolerated, begin offering her meat and dairy products.
Cut Down on Fruit Juice
According to Baby Center, some toddlers suffer from diarrhea due to too much fruit juice or other sweetened beverages in the diet. They recommend limiting toddlers to about a half-cup of fruit juice per day. If your toddler is resistant to drinking water because he is used to fruit juice, try diluting the juice with water, gradually increasing the amount of water and decreasing the amount of juice over time.
Increase Fat and Fiber
The Riley Hospital for Children states that some toddlers suffer from what is known as "toddler's diarrhea," a chronic form of diarrhea that has no identifiable cause. In these cases, increasing the amount of fat and fiber in your child's diet may help. Add healthy fats to her diet by offering her only whole-fat dairy products, and by adding a small amount of olive oil to her food. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, and beans are good sources of fiber.