26 answers

What's a Normal Duration for Toddler Diarrhea?

My son has been sick since Saturday (it's now Wed.) and it started with vomiting and a fever. Day 2 he just had a fever and now days 3,4, and 5 he's had serious diarrhea and he's real lethargic. He'll play lightly for a few minutes at a time, but he just wants to lay down most of the time. I've called the doctor and he said as long as he's taking in fluids and is responsive there's not too much to do. I'm just wondering if this is normal for a course of the bug or if it's lasting longer than normal. (Note: my son has never been sick for more than 48 hours and it's usually just been a fever with no other symptoms so I'm a little worried.)

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So What Happened?™

Thank you so much for the responses. My son is feeling much better. I had been in constant contact with his doctor via phone and never took him in since every day he got slightly better. I tried the B.R.A.T diet and that worked like a charm. Also, I didn't know to take him off of milk for a few days so I think that contributed to it lasting a bit longer. I don't give my son much juice normally so it took some convincing to get him to drink pedialyte and water instead of milk. He's still a little fussy and sleepy, but he's up playing for longer periods and having wet diapers and even had a normal b.m. Like many of you mentioned, it looks like it just needed a week or so to run its course. Thanks again for all the responses!

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If you think he is getting dehydrated take him to the dr. When kids are sick they can get dehydrated fast---it's happened to one of my boys. For the diarrhea we follow the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) and it works great. You might be able to google it and see what other foods are included in the diet.

1 mom found this helpful

Beware of a new Samonella food poisoning that is taking toddlers in their sleep at night. It starts with a high fever fatigue in the evening and then they are gone by morning. Their parents treat them with tylenol and put them to bed thinking it's a stomach bug. Given conventional wisdom, you did the right thing. After learning what I know I will stay up with them and be ready to head to the ER. I'm just spreading the word.

YES!!! Unfortunately my daughter got something like this a couple of years ago and it got so bad I had to take Family Medical Leave at work. It lasted for over two weeks. It was terrible. She was about the same age. She was potty trained at the time but I had to put her in diapers. AWFUL!!!!

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If you think he is getting dehydrated take him to the dr. When kids are sick they can get dehydrated fast---it's happened to one of my boys. For the diarrhea we follow the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) and it works great. You might be able to google it and see what other foods are included in the diet.

1 mom found this helpful

I would have to defer to your doctor regarding how long diarrhea should last, however, make sure you're keeping him full of fluids...the right kind. You should probably avoid drinks that encourage regularity...like prune juice, sugary fruit juices...and also milk (which appears to make diarrhea worse). I guess that would leave water, pedialyte, and the Gerber version of pedialyte. If you're still nursing, naturally you can continue that.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with most of what everyone is saying, however I'd like to share a personal experience. My daughter had rotavirus when she was about the same age as your son. After a high fever (105) and 3 days of vomiting and diarrhea, she had become very lethargic. I had been calling the dr who kept brushing me off and telling me it takes longer for a child to get dehydrated than an adult (false.) On the 3rd day, the dr's office stopped returning my calls. My daughter was to the point where she could no longer sit up on her own. I finally called the dr's office and told them I was taking her to the ER. "Oh don't do that!" they said, and told me to bring her in to the office at 3pm that afternoon, but that if she got worse that I could come in earlier. I was at the point where I was using a medicine dropper to get fluid into her, and most of that was coming back up. She was so weak, so I decided to go on to the drs. I got there at 1pm (2 hrs before scheduled appt.) I sat in the waiting room with an unconscious toddler in my arms and watched them call 3 healthy kids in for sports physicals while I sat there. Once I finally got in to see the doc (not the same one I had been speaking with on the phone), he said "you need to take this child to the hospital right now!" I was so mad and scared because I had been trusting what the other dr had been telling me. We ended up spending 3 nights in the hospital, whereas if I'd taken her to the emergency room when I wanted, we maybe would've only had to spend a few hours or so. The point is, this is where I learned that 1)dr's are human just like everyone else and make mistakes 2)you have to exercise your own maternal judgment. This was a huge life lesson for me (and led me on a quest for a new pediatric practice.) No, there is really no medicine that can "cure" vomiting and diarrhea, but really monitor the lethargy situation. I will definitely second the BRAT diet, pedialyte, and yogurt. Those are all good, but when it comes down to fluids, even if all you can get in him is coke it's better than nothing. Avoid apple and grape juice completely - the sugar will totally make the diarrhea worse. You may have to avoid it for up to a month after he's better and push the yogurt for a while so the "good" bacteria in his digestive system can recover. Good luck, and I hope he feels better soon!

The major cause of diarrhea is virus infections... treatment of virus infections is usually left up to the patient's own immune system, although it may be hard to accept when the doctor says the only cure is for 'nature to take its course'.


My daughter had flu B last week. My pediatrician told her that she would be out of school for a week. It takes a week for the flu to run it's course. She had similar symptoms--fever, upset stomach, no appetite, slept all the time. I took my daughter to the pediatrician because the swine flu is going around right now and there have been cases of it in Nashville. I was relieved that it was just the normal flu. It was a week before she went back to school and a good 10 days before she felt back to normal.

My guess is Rotovirus. It has a very distinct smell, one that will stink up the whole house kinda smell.
Is he still peeing enough. LIke at least 3-4 times a day. If not he's dehydrated. Needs IV fluids. If he is, then just keep treating for dehydration so it doesn't get worse. Pedialyte has popcicles, and of course the flavored drinks.

I would say as long as you feel he's taking his liquids then you should be ok. I've had to deal with diarrhea viruses a few times with my kids, and I always remember the diarrhea lasting at least a week if not two. You may also want to try making Gatorade popsicles if you are having trouble pushing the fluids. Good luck!

It could be a virus causing the diarrhea which could cause him to get dehydrated and make him lethargic. If you go to the pediatrician they are going to put him through lab work and see if he's dehydrated or they may be able to tell by how "dry" he looks. As in are his lips dry, his skin dry, his mouth dry, etc. If this is the case you need to get him to the doctor quickly so they can get him hydrated. Often times these viruses can be like a viscious cycle of vomiting diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting and so one for days. The important thing here is to make sure it's a virus. My son had vomiting and diarrhea for a week one time and the doctors thought it was a virus so for a week I had to put up with it until I finally said, he's not getting better can we do something. They finally checked his stool and found out he had gotten a bacterial infection and needed an antibiotic. After 2 doses of the antibiotic he was ready to go and much better.

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