Gastroenteritis in babies — how to deal with it?

Muhammad Usman Babar
4 min readOct 3, 2020


Photo by Tim Bish on Unsplash

Gastroenteritis in babies is a condition that requires extra care and follow-up to prevent complications.

Gastroenteritis in babies is a disease that can lead to serious problems. For this reason, it is important to notice the symptoms early and follow an appropriate action plan.

To avoid complications, it is essential to know the warning signs of this disease. There are also specific things you can do to take care of your child so that the condition improves. You should also evaluate the need for rotavirus vaccination when your child is still young, and always follow your pediatrician’s recommendations.

What is gastroenteritis in babies?

Gastroenteritis is an inflammatory digestive disease that usually affects the stomach or intestines. It usually begins with the following signs and symptoms:

  • Diarrhea: Normal stools at this age are soft or liquid. This makes it difficult to identify diarrhea. However, if you notice changes in your stools or your baby seems to poop more often than usual, you should contact your pediatrician.
  • Vomiting: It is important to distinguish between vomiting and the usual excess vomiting that babies often have. To do this, it is crucial to know that vomiting occurs with strong vomiting and that the usual excess vomiting consists of a simple outflow of fluids that is usually accompanied by belching.
  • Fever: External temperature (measured in the armpit or groin) higher than 37.5 ° C.
  • Abdominal pain: This is the most difficult symptom to identify because the only clue is that the baby is crying and screaming.

What causes gastroenteritis in babies?

The main cause of this condition is an infectious disease that can occur due to viruses, bacteria, or parasites. When it comes to viruses, rotavirus is the most common and important in developed countries. This condition can also be due to non-intestinal infections such as ear infections or urinary tract infections. It can also be due to causes that are not related to infectious diseases such as diet or other more systemic disorders.

What can I do to prevent this condition?

To prevent gastroenteritis in babies, you need to find out the underlying causes. As we mentioned earlier, bacteria are among the main causes, which means that we must prevent their transmission and avoid contamination.

Therefore, you should take the following steps to prevent transmission:

  • Wash your hands often. This is one of the most effective steps you can take to break the infection.
  • Follow the recommendations for handling your baby’s milk carefully, whether it’s a replacement or your breast milk.
  • Avoid contact with adults and children who show signs or symptoms of illness. If you are not sure whether the person poses a risk of infection or not at the moment, it is better to take the safe before the unsafe: limit or cancel the visit.
  • Do not kiss babies on the mouth or hands if you suspect you may have an infection. Saliva is an effective carrier of many pathogens.
  • Use good hygiene for baby bottles and pacifiers. Clean baby bottles and wash pacifiers daily.
  • Make sure your child follows their vaccination schedule. Ask your pediatrician or nurse for information on the rotavirus vaccine.

When should I see a doctor?

Gastroenteritis in babies is a disease that requires extra monitoring from parents and/or family. Some of the most common complications of the disease are:

  • Dehydration due to excessive loss of water and electrolytes.
  • Hypoglycemia, as a result of lowering blood sugar levels.
  • Temporary lactose intolerance due to loss of enzymes in the intestinal walls.

To avoid these complications, it is recommended that you consult your pediatrician or emergency department if you see any of the following warning signs:

  • If diarrhea occurs in infants younger than 6 months old.
  • If the child has a fever of 38 ° C or higher.
  • When the child vomits or refuses to eat.
  • If you see a weight loss.
  • If the stool contains blood or mucus.

The pediatrician can make a diagnosis after examining the child’s condition and symptoms. As a result of the assessment, you can request a stool sample to identify the bacteria that caused the stomach condition.

Treatment of gastroenteritis in infants

When a child begins to show possible symptoms of gastroenteritis, parents should monitor the condition closely and pay attention to how the child tolerates food:

  • Continue breastfeeding. This is one of the most important steps to take when dealing with this condition in newborns and infants. You should not dilute the infant formula and you should also use the same amount of powder as usual when preparing the milk.
  • After the evaluation, the pediatrician can identify the need for additional treatment based on the administration of oral supplements to counteract dehydration.
  • If your child is unable to hold down fluid, your doctor may evaluate the need to inject fluids to promote recovery and avoid serious complications.

Do you suspect this disease in your child? If you notice symptoms, take your child to a pediatrician as soon as possible. He or she can decide the best treatment according to your child’s needs.