Everyone has diarrhea from time to time; it’s usually a sign of food poisoning, food allergies or the flu. Yet when babies get diarrhea, it’s more important to monitor it closely, as their immune systems are much weaker than those of adults. Seven-month-old babies with diarrhea may have it for a variety of different reasons related to feeding or something entirely different. Not treating the baby’s diarrhea in time can lead to serious health risks.
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Diarrhea in a baby can be hard for parents to decipher, since normal baby stools look similar to diarrhea in adults. Dr. Alan Greene, professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, states that parents can tell if their 7-month-old baby has diarrhea if the baby suddenly has an increase in stool frequency, her stools become more watery or the consistency changes over a period of a few days.
One of the leading causes of diarrhea in babies is a reaction to a specific type of formula. Sometimes this happens because mothers are trying to wean their 7-month-old off of breast milk and onto formula. Dr. Bill Sears, pediatrician and professor at University of California, Irvine, states that breast milk is digested more easily since it contains digestive enzymes. Around 7 months of age, mothers may be going back to work and need to supplement the breast milk with formula. Sears states that baby formulas, which are typically cow’s milk-based, can cause diarrhea due to allergies or intolerances.
Around 6 months of age is when many babies first begin eating solid foods. The first foods, such as baby cereal or pureed green beans, may be harmless, but another food, such as yogurt, sweet potatoes or baby peaches, could cause a problem. Sears explains that some babies have food intolerances, especially to dairy products, which can cause diarrhea. Food allergies are actual allergic reactions, which can cause diarrhea, along with other symptoms like hives and breathing difficulties. If you’ve just recently introduced a new food to your baby and his stools have drastically changed, he may have diarrhea from the baby food.
The main risk associated with diarrhea in a 7-month-old baby is dehydration. Greene states on his website that babies can easily become dehydrated since they lose so much body fluid during a period of diarrhea. If the diarrhea is severe enough and goes untreated, it could even cause weight loss in the baby.
Sometimes you can treat diarrhea in a 7-month-old at home. Greene states that breastfeeding more often and limiting formula use can reduce diarrhea. If your baby is formula-fed and you do not breastfeed, Greene recommends switching to a soy-based formula, which has less chance of causing an intolerance. Milder baby foods, like rice cereal, bananas and applesauce, can help to reduce the frequency of the stools. However, if the diarrhea lasts longer than 72 hours or occurs with a fever, Greene recommends taking the baby to her pediatrician.