Diarrhoea is an increase in runniness and number of bowel motions (poos). Bacterial infection, a reaction to something eaten, and a problem with the bowels are other causes of diarrhoea.

Young children can lose a lot of fluid and become sick quickly when they have diarrhoea. If your child has vomiting and diarrhoea together you need to contact your doctor. If the diarrhoea has not gone in 24 hours or your child shows other signs of sickness eg drowsiness, passing less urine, has stomach cramps or blood in their poos, see a doctor.

Babies with diarrhoea

It is important to keep breast or bottle feeding your child and to offer extra fluids. Offer them food and fluids from their normal diet. Homemade sugar and salt solutions are not recommended. There is no need to stop feeding your child; in fact, continuing to feed helps to heal the bowel more quickly. If your baby is not drinking much, they will need to be seen by a doctor.

Older children with diarrhoea

Older children need plenty to drink. Do not offer fizzy drinks, fruit juice, apple juice or sports drinks as they are high in sugar and can make the diarrhoea worse. You may offer your child food, but they may not be hungry or as hungry as usual.

If your older child is reluctant to drink you can make a game of drinking by:

  • offering fluids in a special cup, or drinking through a straw
  • offering ice blocks or jelly
  • using a timer and making every 10 minutes ‘sipping time’.

To prevent passing the infection to others, wash your hands after changing nappies or helping your child on the toilet. Washing your hands before preparing or serving food will help stop the rest of the family getting sick. Also ensure older children wash their hands each time after going to the toilet.


For help and advice call PlunketLine 0800 933 922, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If your child is sick please call Healthline, 0800 611 116, New Zealand's 24-hour telephone health advice service. All calls are answered by registered nurses.
In an emergency phone 111.
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