Baby and Toddler Sickness: Gastroenteritis

What gastro is, the causes and symptoms of it, treatment options, and when to seek urgent medical help.

Gastroenteritis (gastro) is a viral infection of the bowels that causes diarrhoea (runny, watery poo) and sometimes vomiting.

The most common viruses for gastro are rotavirus and adenovirus, but there are many others that can cause it as well and, as a result, your child can have gastro more than one time. The most common symptoms are nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting, but it can cause children to have a fever or tummy pains as well.

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If the condition is mild and your child is over six months old, children will usually be able to recover at home with plenty of fluids. To keep them hydrated, it’s best to offer sips of water, their usual milk such as cow’s milk if they are over one, or breastfeed them on demand, even if they are vomiting.

Seek help for gastro from your GP or a doctor at an after-hours medical clinic urgently if your baby or child:

  • Is younger than six months old.
  • Is drowsy and difficult to wake.
  • Has had lots of diarrhoea (8-10 runny, watery motions in one day).
  • Has blood or mucus in their poo.
  • Is experiencing increased vomiting or is unable to keep down fluids.
  • Is vomiting green bile.
  • Has developed severe stomach pains.
  • Is showing signs of dehydration.
  • You are concerned for any other reason.

For more advice on keeping kids healthy, visit kidshealth.org.nz.

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