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General Medical Questions
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Question : My daughter's 2-month-old baby has watery diarrhea all the time. She is breastfeeding. Is this normal, or should she have him checked out?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Claire McCarthy, M.D., a senior medical editor for Harvard Health Publications, is an assistant professor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She is an attending physician and Medical Communications Editor at Children's Hospital Boston.

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July 10, 2013
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It may be normal. Babies who are exclusively breastfed have loose, seedy, yellow-brown stools. The stools may be frequent, as often as every time the baby nurses. Sometimes normal breastfeeding stools can seem like diarrhea to first-time parents, or parents who are used to the more formed and less frequent stools of formula-fed babies.

However, it may not be normal if:

  • The stools are indeed watery as opposed to seedy
  • If the stools  have become looser or otherwise different from usual
  • If the baby has vomiting or fever

The baby could have gastroenteritis, an infection of the intestines. While most cases of gastroenteritis go away by themselves, they can lead to dehydration. That’s especially true in babies as small as this one.

Also, loose stools can sometimes be a sign of a different kind of problem with the intestines. One in which nutrients are not absorbed normally, or of an allergy (in this case it would be an allergy to something in the mother’s diet). These can cause poor growth and other health problems.

Bottom line: While the chances are good that your grandson is fine, your daughter should give his doctor a call to talk about what’s going on and see if a visit to the office makes sense.

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