Toddler with Chronic Diarrhea

Updated on January 11, 2012
E.K. asks from Allen, TX
17 answers

My daughter is 14 months old and has had diarrhea for the last 3 months. It's about 90% of the time and can be so violent that we have to change her. It's gross and I'm getting to the point of being beyond tired of it.

It all started when she had a bad stomach virus and ear infections 3 months ago. We put her on antibiotics for the ear infections. We expected diarrhea from the antibiotic and was not surprised. After a month of it though, we took her back to her pediatrician. Pediatrician said that this happens to some kids who take antibiotics. After two more weeks, we called pediatrician who referred us to a Pediatric GI doctor. This doctor changed her to a different Probiotic (refridgerated kind), ran blood tests (Celiac and others) and stool tests. Nothing came back as abnormal. We took her off sugar (as much as possible) to see if it helped - it didn't.

Now, GI wants to do a Biopsy of the small intestine, to see if there is an issue digesting certain foods as well as some other things they can look for. I'm freaked out about this!

My question is this - has anyone else had to go through this? I've heard of "Toddler Diarrhea", but don't know exactly what that is, but have heard it an go on for a year or two. I guess I'm not looking for medical advise, just curious if anyone has heard of this or had a toddler that had it going one for this long. Anyone have this go away on its own?

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So What Happened?

It's been a week of no issues, so I can officially say that I think the issue is resolved! Thanks to everyone that submitted an answer to my problem. Because of all of the responses, I decided to try and figure out the issue myself before putting my daughter through a torturous procedure.

One lady mentioned that her child had a problem with Lactaid, which is exactly what my daughter drinks. So, I was going to take her off of that starting the weekend. In those two days as I waited for the weekend, I had forgotten to give my daughter her Probiotic. For those two days, she had NO diarrhea (which happened occasionally, didn't think anything of it). I was so upset with myself for forgetting the Probiotic and immediately put her back on it. That VERY DAY, she had diarrhea so bad that she went through THREE outfits, explosive.

So, thinking back, what could be different? No diarrhea for two days, the very days that I forgot the Probiotic. Then, explosive diarrhea when I put her back on it.

Solution - I immediately took her off of the Probiotic. It has been one week since her last dose of the Probiotic and one week since her last diarrhea. I know Probiotics are NOT supposed to do this. I get it. But, I'm telling you, this was the cause. She has been on Probiotic for 4 months (ever since she got a stomach bug) and has had diarrhea almost every day since. And now, nothing. I don't blame the doctors for telling me to keep her on this. But, I do wish they had thought to take her off of it. I feel like I've been poisoning her for 4 months!!!

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answers from Dallas on

I second the C Diff answer. My daughter had chronic diarrhea after antibiotics and after bowel testing, found out she had contracted it. It took 2 rounds of medicine to clear it up (about a month or so). She continued to have bouts of diarrhea until she was 2 and was tested for everything under the sun (celiac's, 2 endoscopies, etc.) and no known cause was found. She was labeled with toddler diarrhea at 1 and out grew it at 2. She is now perfectly healthy.

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answers from Los Angeles on

OMG i can't believe you wrote this!!!! Last year my 18 mo old had diarreah for 4 months and no one would listen to me! I cried myself to sleep i dont know how many nights because i couldnt figure her out and her ped just kept blowing me off, if you care to read here is my original post on here looking for help....

my poor baby had a diaper rash the whole 4 months too! I had made sooooooooooo many changes to her diet and eliminated so many things that i think i became confused and lost track, so finally i went to the biggest childrens hospital i could find near here and they were so helpfull!! right away the doc told me that she wanted to do stool tests, and to put her on a bland diet for 1 week while i did the tests. My baby had never had a "solid" poop, always runny, always diarreah, and as soon as igot home and started the bland diet, wah lah!!!!! i couldnt even get enough poop to complete the tests! problem solved!, turns out it was the Lactaid milk i was giving her this whole time was making her sick, my poor baby :( since then she drank rice milk until she was 2 and then i slowly weaned her to 2% cows milk and now shes perfectly fine. Please do read my posts before you alow doctors to torture her it maybe be something so simple that you may just be overlookig. i wish you the best!!

so i guess what i would suggest is put her on a SUPER bland diet for a week......if i remember right i took away ALL dairy, and basically just fed her boiled chicken and steamed veggies, bananas and toast and water. but then again i didnt have to do it for more than 1 day to see an immense change and was able to figure it out.Try it M., it might work!! if you see a change then start adding one item at a time to her diet and you should be able to figure it out.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I'd consider talking to a nutritionist first. See if you can rule out anything in her diet/allergies/etc first. Of COURSE a GI doc is immediately going to go for the medical tests...I'd talk to a D.O. who deals with nutrition first before doing the tests.

ETA: I'm reading a few other posts and want to say that I think a test for C-dif could be the answer. But if it's not, PLEASE don't start changing up her diet without talking to a nutritionist! Don't go gluten free or add probiotics or feed her only bland food and pedialyte until you have talked to that doctor who deals primarily with nutrition. If the problem is gastric flora, he needs the test and treatment, not a major diet change.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Have they tested for C-Dif? My son was on antibiotics back to back and it killed all the good bacteria in his stomach. He had to take this god awful medicine but it worked! He had major runs and no control of his bowels. This sounds just like the same situation. Maybe have her retested for it if they did it once.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

There are a group of disorders called Eosinophilic Gastrointestial Disorders (EGID). Your daughter's symptoms sound very similar to these disoders. The only way to test for them is to do a biopsy. My son has an EGID. If you would like more information, you can go to or

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

My niece had diarrhea for over a year, and it turns out she was constipated of all things. The hard stool was blocking most of her intestine and the liquid stool leaked out around it. Diarrhea can be so many things. Good luck with this - hopefully you will wake up one day and it will be gone!

Could she be lactose intolerant? That can cause terrible diarrhea. C-diff could be the problem too and is tested with a stool sample.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Champaign on

My son had "Toddler Diarrhea" for a couple of months (I think. It was a couple of years ago.) Our doctor asked us to cut out dairy for awhile to see if that helped. It didn't. She tested samples, and they all came back negative. It did go away on it's own, thankfully, and our ped said that this can happen as their bodies get used to table food and all the new foods they are being introduced to.

I tend to do what the doctors recommend, as I think most of them really do intervene as little as possible and try to eliminate other options before they suggest anything invasive. If it were me, I would probably make sure I asked the GI if he/she really didn't see any other options. Would he/she recommend anything else you could try, any other dietary changes, etc. Since this is a Pediatric GI, I would tend to thing this doctor is going to be more sensitive to mom's concerned about unnecessary, invasive procedure and wouldn't recommend the biopsy if there really were any other options. But definitely ask!

One concern I really had was the diaper rash. With diarrhea, comes diaper rash, and nothing seemed to help more poor baby. The nurse recommended Paladin, and it worked!!! I had to ask the pharmacist where it was, but it is an over the counter cream. Huge help!!!

Good luck! I hope your little one gets better soon.

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answers from Seattle on

We went to a Ped GI last summer (kiddo was going on 4) after waiting for 2+ years for him to grow out of "toddler diarrhea" (we'd also limited sugar, he drank no juice, only ate whole fruit, lots of fiber, etc). She did a high powered test of stool and blood samples and determined that he had mild inflammation in his bowels (but not enough that she was worried about Crohns). She put him on Miralax. I really thought she was crazy - treating chronic diarrhea w/ a stool softener, for heaven's sake? But it's been six months and kiddo has finally normalized. This might not help in your situation, but you might ask your GI if it's worth giving it a go for a set period of time before a biopsy.

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answers from Rochester on

Try putting her on a gluten free diet regardless of her test results, which at that age can be unaccurate. If she has a sensitivity to gluten, you'll notice an improvement very quickly, but give it a week or two. If you want more details about this diet, message me and I'd be glad to help.

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answers from Lubbock on

Have they treated or tested for giardiasis. My son had it for 15 months before they figured it out! They kept treating it with a regular antibiotic which makes it worse because it reduced the good flora that would keep it in check. He developed symptoms after several rounds of antibiotics for ear infections.

The special antibiotic is cheap - cheaper than the test to find out if the giardia lambia is present. It was just difficult to get the doctors to look at the possibility. I talked to a veterinarian who said that he would have just given me the antibiotic when I told him that I almost went to him for treatment. Dairy cows get it 4 times per year as a preventative. It cost $4.00 per treatment.

Instead doctors waited for months until I was seriously ill and did an intestinal biopsy on me. The tests cost more than $5,000. The treatment cost $7.00. Since then, I have told others to tell their doctors that they have been exposed. The stool test cost 30.00 and may have to be repeated. Our son"s was found on the third try. After treatment, our general health is 100 times better. The giardiasis completely depleted our immune systems.

Good luck.


answers from Providence on

Oh my! Since it has lasted for three months, I don't think it is the type that will settle on its own. The only time my son had diarrhea at that age was when he had to much apple juice. Is their enough fiber in her diet? Not sure if that would help bulk up her stool. I really don't have much to help you with, however, a biopsy of the small intestine isn't too out their. Considering the fact that they have considered all of the other options. Edit: However, if she isn't having bloody diarrhea, then it may not be as necessary for a biopsy. Is she having a lot of belly pain, or is she fussier then she was before the diarrhea started? It could be that all of the antibiotics, probiotics, etc is making it worse. I also would lay off all dairy products.
I honestly haven't heard of this before, but I would certainly hope it gets better soon!



answers from Dallas on

I second the C Diff answer. My daughter had chronic diarrhea after antibiotics and after bowel testing, found out she had contracted it. It took 2 rounds of medicine to clear it up (about a month or so). She continued to have bouts of diarrhea until she was 2 and was tested for everything under the sun (celiac's, 2 endoscopies, etc.) and no known cause was found. She was labeled with toddler diarrhea at 1 and out grew it at 2. She is now perfectly healthy.



answers from Madison on

I would take her to see a Naturopathic Doctor who can test for food allergies and food intolerances. If she is having diarrhea that much, her intestines are not only messed up and inflammed, but something she is eating (or drinking) doesn't like her body. I would want to find out what that is and avoid it. It will take a while for her intestines/colon to heal if the diarrhea has been ongoing for three months.

Some people who are allergic to the proteins (casein or whey) in cow's milk suffer from diarrhea (my husband); others have constipation (me and my daughter). Is your daughter breast fed or taking formula or drinking cow's milk? Did the Ped make any mention about trying to eliminate cow's milk/products from her diet?

Just a note: the tests the allopathic doctors run for food issues are different from the ones a Naturopathic Doctor will run. For what it's worth--I tend to put my faith in alternative healthcare doctors. I got seriously ill in 2008 and had absolutely no help from the allopathic doctors I was seeing. I finally decided it was my body and I wanted to be well, so I went and started checking out the alternative medicine side of things. I have never been more thankful in my life that I "stepped outside the boundary of what's considered 'medicine'" and embraced alternative healthcare. I found answers to my health problems and dis-eases there.

I had a Biopsy of both my large and small intestine done, to make sure I didn't have Celiac Disease (I have severe gluten intolerance). It's not a nice procedure, but if the doctor knows what he's doing/what to look for, it is a good procedure. Before I'd go that route, however, I would try doctoring with a Naturopath. Just my opinion.

And anytime diarrhea has been going on that long, there is lots of inflammation inside the body. Until you get to the ROOT CAUSE of what's triggering the severe diarrhea and TAKE AWAY the irritant that's causing the diarrhea, her colon/intestines won't be able to heal and get better. Another thing: with her colon/intestines inflammed like they are, it's a sure bet that her body isn't able to pull out all the nutrients it needs from the food(s) she eats. She might be malabsorbed. I had severe malabsorption by the time I finally went to see a naturopathic doctor at the age of 40 years because of all the years I'd lived with severe food allergies and food intolerances.

Just saying.


answers from Chicago on

I'd like to suggest something. Could it just be that the balance in her digestive system is all fricked up from the virus plus antibiotics? Personally, I would try, in conjunction with the other things you are doing, a great probiotic called Florajen. It's in the refrigerated part of the nutrition section at Whole Foods. It's specifically for restoring GI balance after taking antibioics. It certainly can't hurt. I'd open the capsule and put it in some applesauce or yogurt. I hope you all can get this cleared up and have health and peace again soon. Blessings!



answers from Tyler on

Hey -
I scanned the answers and you are getting alot of good responses. But, I did not see anyone suggest the "Brat" diet to stop the diarrhea. "Bananas, Rice, applesauce, toast". I know it seems like some of those things would cause diarrhea, but it really does help. Feed her only these food items for a couple of days (plus water) and see if the diarrhea goes away. Then, add back different food items that she regularly consumes and see if one of them causes diarrhea. I would not be surprised if milk did/does. When my son was little, he had some problems with throwing up and diarrhea (nothing too severe) and the doctor took him off of dairy. He was tested for allergies and he never showed any allergies to milk, but keeping him off of it for about 4 months really helped his system get stabilized. He now completely does dairy and has no issues.

I too would be wary of an intestinal biopsy and would at least remove dairy and do allergy testing first.

Good luck!


answers from Norfolk on

My son had a case of diarrhea but it finally ended after about 8 weeks.
Our pediatrician said sometimes when a gut gets irritated it will stay irritated for a long time after the initial source of irritation has resolved itself.
Of course the most important thing is to keep the child well hydrated (lot's of pedialyte) and try to deal with the diaper rash which develops from the diarrhea being so very acidic.
If her intestines are not dealing with solids very well right now, does the doctor recommend you try to keep her to a liquid diet for awhile (formula, pedialyte, soup broth, etc)?
It's good you are having it checked out.
I hope it's resolved soon.



answers from Dallas on

Ask the doctor if your daughter can do a fecal calprotectin test. It's a simple stool test that is very accurate in detecting inflammation in the intestines. We didn't want our daughter to have a colonoscopy unless it was 100% necessary. The calprotectin test was suggested by the second GI doc to rule out an IBD. My daughter ended up having a colonoscopy and was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.

Also ask your doctor about S. Boulardi. I had heard a lot about it for months, but didn't buy it until my daughter had a flare and her diarrhea didn't clear within a few weeks (this was after a few rounds of antibiotics for nasal inflammation that wouldn't go away because of the immunosuppressive medications she was on). Her diarrhea cleared within days of taking the S. Boulardi, so now I give it to her for a few days after she starts having diarrhea or when she's taking antibiotics, and it seems to really help her.

This is the one I get because it doesn't have corn, lactose, gluten, soy, etc. in it:

Hopefully your child's issue is nothing more than a temporary condition, but if you learn it's an inflammatory bowel disease, feel free to get in touch with me and I can share what we've learned over the last few years.



answers from Dallas on

Vaccines caused this in our child. I would consider taking the alternative route with alternative doctors. Your pediatrician will telll you that vaccines cannot do this. BUT its happening all over. Ear infections is a reaction also. If you are interested in alternative docs you can email me.

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