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What is the BRAT diet?

In the past, the BRAT diet was used to treat diarrhea in children. BRAT stands for:

  • Bananas
  • Rice (or other starchy food)
  • Applesauce
  • Toast

Foods in the BRAT diet were thought to act as "binders" that would make the stools less watery. However, here is no scientific proof that the BRAT diet helps children recover from diarrhea. Diarrhea in children and babies has many causes, including illness, infection, and food sensitivity.

If your child has diarrhea it is very important to replace the liquid being lost in the diarrhea. Losing too much fluid can cause a child to become dehydrated. This can be very serious in babies and young children. Babies who drink breast milk or formula should continue to do so, but should be given extra fluids. The best fluids to give are electrolyte solutions such as Kao Lectrolyte or Pedialyte. These products replace both the water and the minerals lost with diarrhea. Older children with severe diarrhea should also be given an electrolyte solution, plus their normal drinks such as milk and water. Do not give your child carbonated drinks, apple or pear juice, gelatin desserts, or sports beverages. These are all high in sugar, which can make your child’s diarrhea worse.

Foods that are easy to digest, like those in the BRAT diet may be useful for a short time to help your child eat solid foods again. The BRAT diet does not provide all needed nutrients, it should not be used for more than 1 to 3 days. As soon as possible, your child should return to a normal diet.

Call your child's healthcare provider right away if:

  • Your child has not urinated in 8 hours (12 hours for older children) or has a very dry mouth or no tears.
  • There is any blood or mucous in the diarrhea.
  • Diarrhea is severe or lasts longer than 3 days.
  • Your child throws up repeatedly, has a fever that lasts more than 3 days, or starts acting very sick.

Contact your child's provider if diarrhea starts within 1 week of a trip outside of the US or after a camping trip. The diarrhea may be due to bacteria or parasites and may need to be treated with medicine.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-02-01
Last reviewed: 2011-09-08
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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