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Prevention - Diarrhoea in babies and children

The best way to prevent diarrhoea is to wash and dry your hands well. Always use soap and warm water. Use hand sanitiser if there is no running water available.

How to clean your hands

Breastfeeding your baby can reduce their risk of diarrhoea.

When travelling abroad, try to avoid:

  • drinking tap water
  • drinks containing ice
  • food prepared in water, such as salads washed in tap water

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

Stop 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.


Your child should stay home from school, creche, or childcare until at least 48 hours have passed since their last episode of diarrhoea and vomiting.

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.

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're finished.

Wash soiled surfaces

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

  • soak up excess liquid with paper towels
  • thoroughly wash the surface with detergent and water
  • rinse the area with clean water
  • allow the area to dry
  • throw away or thoroughly wash any gloves and equipment used
  • 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

Keep your child home from school, creche or childcare until at least 48 hours have passed since their last episode of diarrhoea and vomiting.

The following tips can help to reduce the spread of diarrhoea:


  • do not let sick people prepare food

  • do not let your sick child share towels with others

Page last reviewed: 20 July 2023
Next review due: 20 July 2026