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Treatment - Diarrhoea in babies and children

It is safe to treat your child at home if they do not develop severe diarrhoea or dehydration.

You can reduce your child’s symptoms at home by:

  • continuing their normal milk feeds
  • giving them plenty of small sips of water
  • continuing to offer them small amounts of food - do not worry if your child does not want to eat for 1 or 2 days
  • feeding them whole milk and fibre, if they are older than 12 months
  • giving them liquid paracetamol to reduce a high temperature or tummy pains

Important

Always read the label and give the correct dose of liquid paracetamol. Keep all medicines out of your child’s reach.

Most children with diarrhoea do not need antibiotics. This is because diarrhoea is usually caused by a virus. Antibiotics cannot treat viruses.

If your child has diarrhoea

If your child has diarrhoea, do not give them:

  • fruit juices or fizzy drinks
  • medications to stop diarrhoea
  • diluted formula

Important

When preparing formula, always follow the packet instructions. It is not safe to dilute formula by adding extra water to it. Make up the bottles as normal and give your baby extra water or drinks in addition to their milk feeds.

How to look after your baby when they’re sick

Dr Fiona McGuire, HSE Senior Medical Officer and GP, gives advice to parents on how to look after a sick baby and what to watch out for.

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