Non-Stop Runny Stools

A certain smell wafts through the air and your heart sinks. You know it's yet another runny stool. It seems like your toddler always has them. The poor thing even has a rash by now. Why does she/he always, always have diarrhea?

Believe it or not, it's a known condition for toddlers. For lack of a better name, physicians call it "Toddler's Diarrhea." Diarrhea is defined as more stools than are usual for the child with the stools appearing more watery than usual.

Apple Juice

Though it's called toddler's diarrhea, it can also hit children as young as 6 months of age, though it almost always stops by age four. Most of the time, toddler's diarrhea is seen in children who drink a lot of fruit juice, in particular, apple juice. Fructose, the sugar that is found in fruit and fruit juices, imbibed in large amounts is the culprit. What happens is that the large amount of fructose bombards the small intestines of the toddler dragging water from the walls of the intestines, into the intestinal hollow. The result of this process is diarrhea.

In toddler's diarrhea, the child is usually otherwise healthy and doesn't lose weight. What you see is up to around 6 watery stools daily and these contain bits of undigested food. Your pediatrician will make the diagnosis based on your reportage of the child's symptoms. He may order tests to rule out other conditions.

Substitute Milk

The treatment for toddler's diarrhea consists of making dietary changes. First of all, you will be instructed to cut back on fruit juices or maybe eliminate juice altogether. Milk is a proper substitute, though some juices may still be fine alternatives for your child. Ask about white grape juice and citrus juices. You'll also want to avoid giving your child fruits and foods that are high in fructose and sorbitol. On the no-no list: sugar-free chewing gum, some sodas, honey, figs, dates, cherries, peaches, prunes, pears, and apples. Your child may still be able to have pineapple, citrus fruits, berries, or bananas. Your doctor will likely instruct you to increase the fat and fiber content of your child's diet, too.

In general, it's best to avoid anti-diarrhea medications. You don't need to add any vitamins or mineral supplements unless a blood test shows there is a deficiency. Once you change your child's eating habits, you should see a change for the better within several days or weeks.