Q: Doc, my daughter has been having watery faeces. It’s been five days and not stopping. I also went to clinic but she’s active and she still eats her food. I’m nervous; tell me any home remedies I can give her Doc
A: Hi dear, thanks for writing in. You didn’t tell me how old your baby is, so it was difficult to figure out what age to focus on.
Generally, exclusively breast fed babies may pass stool a couple of times during the day to lots of time (it might even be after every meal :D). You’re still getting to know your baby and so you should look out for the normal consistency of his stools and the frequency. Diarrhea is usually rare in exclusively breast fed children because you’ve cut off all the middle men like bottles and teats etc that could have been reservoirs of infection. Having said that, watch out for signs like blood or mucous in stool, explosive green stools and foul smelling stools. How can this occur in exclusively breast fed babies? It may be due to an infection (viral and bacterial), food allergy to something the mother ate, it may be due to food poisoning in the mum or perhaps the mother had taken antibiotics. If in doubt as to whether the stools appear normal or as they have been since birth, please see your baby’s doctor. If your baby has diarrhea, he/she should be rehydrated as quickly as possible. The first way is to continue breastfeeding even before going to the hospital. This also provides valuable antibodies that help the baby fight diseases.
Diet affects our breast milk and by extension, baby. These are foods to avoid or limit their consumption while breast feeding:
Caffeine in coffee (try decaffeinated and stick with 2 small tea cups), energy drinks, some soft drinks etc This makes the baby irritable and by extension, makes sleep difficult for the baby. Now, you don’t want that, do you?
Alcohol: This should be avoided at all costs.
Cigarette (yeah, yeah, I know it’s not food) should also be avoided as it reduces the production of breast milk.
If baby reacts to what the mother ate, efforts should be made to pinpoint what the mother ate before the incident started and then eliminating that from the diet to see if the diarrhea or allergy stops.
Make sure that you eat well: lots of fruits and vegetables and complex carbohydrates. Cut out the junk which will not help you achieve your weight loss goals and in addition have empty calories. And drink sufficient fluids daily.
Be careful before taking any drug as most find their way into your baby.
For older children, hygiene may be critical. Did you know that research shows that one out of every five people do not wash their hands after using the toilet. Then, 40% of people wash their hands for less than 10 seconds…and yet, you need at least 20 seconds to get your hands all squeaky clean! Finally, men are twice as likely not to wash their hands with soap or hand wash! Oh dear, just think about all the people we shake hands with, trusting and hoping that their hands are clean!
Diseases like respiratory infections and diarrhea cause up to 20 percent of the burden of disease in children. It has been found that in places where hand washing was instituted, this burden of disease has been cut by about 50%. This is a huge number…from hand washing alone! In hospitals, it was also found that the spread of hospital-acquired infections was encouraged by lack of hand washing and so WHO instituted a global campaign for health workers clearly specifying when hands have to be washed.
So, practical lessons: mums wash your hands before you make your baby’s/family’s food, after you change baby’s diaper, after you blow your nose, after cleaning etc. Ensure that people don’t come in from the market (or wherever) and head straight to pick up your baby and kiss your baby…no matter how well meaning their gestures might be. Encourage them to wash their hands before they do so…or you could buy a hand sanitizer and get them to use it on their hands before picking up your precious bundle of joy. It may be awkward when you start off insisting on these, but pretty soon everyone gets used to it…trust me, I know from personal experience 😀 (I probably got away with more because my in-laws probably just thought I was a weird Okoro girl). Tips: remember that sanitizers are only useful for hands that are not visibly dirty. For visibly dirty hands, you’ve got to wash! Also remember that when choosing the sanitizer, look for products that have up to 60 percent alcohol and ensure that when you use it, you rub until your hands are dry.
We should ensure that we teach children and indeed remind ourselves to wash hands after playing or doing stuff outside the house, before eating, after using the toilet, after playing with pets or disposing of their wastes (in fact children should not be encouraged to play too close to their kennels or sheds), before cooking and even after handling dirty laundry! The list is endless…but that’s also because the possible means of contaminating our hands are endless and the germs find easy routes into the body once we touch our hands, mouths, eyes etc. So we can’t be too careful…and just in case you wondered, ‘no, you don’t have to wear a face mask and/or gloves all the time’ to protect you from the many germs that exist! 😀 That might be…well, for want of a better word, perhaps just a teensy weensy bit extreme! 😀
Finally, remember that hand washing, to be done right, has to be with soap! If you haven’t washed with soap, you haven’t really done much. Tips for effective hand washing: wet your hands with water, apply soap, then scrub thoroughly paying attention to your nail beds, in between fingers, palms and back of hands. Then rinse thoroughly before drying your hands.
Well, if you’re one of those who do not wash your hands after using the bathroom/toilet, let’s encourage you to start washing today.
Sleep tight, y’all J