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How to prevent diarrhoea in babies and children

The best way to prevent diarrhoea is to wash and dry hands well. Always use soap and warm water.

Breastfeeding your baby can reduce their risk of diarrhoea.

Avoid drinking tap water and drinks containing ice, or food prepared in water, when travelling abroad.

Make sure your child’s vaccines are up to date.

Stop infectious diarrhoea spreading

Many of the germs that cause diarrhoea can spread easily from person to person. There are many things you can do to stop the spread of diarrhoea.

Wash and dry hands properly

You and your child should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.

Always wash your hands in the following situations:

  • after changing a nappy
  • after helping children use the toilet
  • after cleaning or touching a potty
  • before preparing, handling or eating food
  • after handling rubbish bins and dirty nappies
  • after handling raw meat
  • after handling animals or animal waste

Always dry your hands properly after washing them.

Keep the bathroom clean

It's important to clean the bathroom if a member of the household has diarrhoea.

You should use hot water, disinfectant and disposable cloths to clean the:

  • toilet
  • sink
  • bathroom surfaces
  • door handles
  • toilet seat
  • flush handle

Always wash and dry your hands properly when you have finished.

Wash soiled surfaces

Do the following if furniture or floors become soiled with poo or vomit:

  1. soak up excess liquid with paper towels
  2. thoroughly wash the surface with detergent and water
  3. rinse the area with clean water
  4. allow the area to dry
  5. throw away or thoroughly wash any gloves and equipment used
  6. wash and dry your hands

If bedding or clothing becomes soiled with poo or vomit, remove what you can into the toilet. Then wash the items in a separate wash at a high temperature.

Other ways to stop the spread of diarrhoea

You can also do the following to reduce the spread of diarrhoea:

  • don’t let sick people prepare food
  • don’t let your sick child share towels with others
  • keep your child home from crèche or school until at least 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea

For certain infections, you may need to keep your child at home for longer. Check with your GP or public health doctor if you are not sure.

Related topic

Vomiting in babies and children

page last reviewed: 20/11/2018
next review due: 20/11/2021