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Feeding your child during an attack of diarrhoea

Supplementing a probiotic during recovery will help normalise the gut flora. We usually have bacteria living in our intestines that fermenting and break down food. Infection upsets this balance and therefore it is good to increase the good bacteria in the gut. Yoghurt is a natural and effective probiotic.

Another common dilemma is whether milk should be withheld. Lactose intolerance results from an inability to digest the natural sugar (lactose) found in milk and milk products due to damage to the intestinal mucosa after infectious diarrhoea.

Reduced absorption of lactose leads to gas and short-chain fatty acids building up in the gout leading to gas, discomfort and perianal itching. For infants, it is advised to continue giving formula and breastmilk during an acute diarrhoea in most cases. For older children, an alternative to milk is soy milk. It is good to avoid dairy products (butter, cream, ice cream, cheese and anything with whey) in such cases.

I hope these tips help reduce anxiety the next time your child has an upset tummy.


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Dr. Krishna Mahathi holds diplomas in Pediatrics and in the management of allergies and asthma. Years of working and interacting with children and parents have given her insight into developmental disabilities. She wishes that there was more awareness and acceptance of the issues that differently-abled children face and hopes that through this blog, she can enable thse children and their families to make sensible and informed choices.

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