Diarrhea is common in young children and can have many causes, including viral and bacterial infections that are easily spread by kids. Most cases of diarrhea are not serious, but they do need to run their course. Unfortunately, this can take up to a week, depending on the cause. The good news is that most kids will recover fine on their own and can continue eating as normal, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Offer your child clear fluids throughout the day, to keep him hydrated despite the fluid loss from the diarrhea. Water is a good choice, but you can also try to get him to eat some broth.
Avoid giving your child fruit juices such as apple juice. Although many kids like the taste of fruit juices, the sugars in fruit can make diarrhea worse, according to the MayoClinic website.
Allow your child to eat as much or as little as she wants. Start by offering soft, low-fiber foods, and then gradually move to harder foods with more fiber. Good choices include rice, plain crackers and chicken.
Change dirty diapers as necessary. Because of the increase in bowel movements when a child has diarrhea, the skin on the bottom might become irritated and inflamed. Wipe the diaper area thoroughly, and apply diaper rash cream as needed.
Contact your child's pediatrician if your notice blood in his stool or if his fever is greater than 102 degrees F.
Watch for signs of dehydration, which include dry diapers or no urinating for three or more hours, crying without tears, dry tongue and mouth, and skin that does not flatten when pinched, according to the National Digestive Disorders Information Clearinghouse. If your child appears to be dehydrated, contact your pediatrician immediately.
If your child wants to eat, try offering smaller amounts of food more frequently throughout the day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
A child with mild to moderate diarrhea can still drink milk. If she gets bloated or develops abdominal pain, ask your pediatrician if you should avoid milk until the episode passes.
If diarrhea persists for several days, check with your pediatrician about using electrolyte solutions to help your child stay hydrated.
Do not give your 2-year-old anti-diarrhea medications unless your pediatrician has specifically instructed you to do so, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.