Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

If your baby is sick, offer small amounts of liquid. If you're breast-feeding, let your baby nurse.

If your baby drinks formula, offer a small amount of an oral rehydration fluid or regular formula. Don't dilute your baby's formula.

If your older child isn't feeling well, encourage him or her to rest. Offer bland foods, such as soda crackers and toast.

Plenty of liquids are important, too, including an oral rehydration fluid (Enfamil Enfalyte, Pedialyte, others). Avoid apple juice, dairy products and sugary foods, which can make a child's diarrhea worse.

If you're struggling with diarrhea or vomiting, take it easy. Suck on ice chips or take small sips of water or clear sodas, such as ginger ale, or broths. Eat bland foods.

Avoid anything that may irritate your stomach, including dairy products, fatty or highly seasoned foods, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.

Prevention

To reduce the spread of rotavirus, wash your hands thoroughly and often — especially after you use the toilet, change your child's diaper or help your child use the toilet. But even strict hand-washing doesn't offer any guarantees.

There are two vaccines offered against rotavirus:

  • RotaTeq. This vaccine is given by mouth in three doses, often at ages 2 months, 4 months and 6 months. The vaccine is not approved for use in older children or adults.

    Although a few cases of intussusception — a rare but life-threatening form of intestinal blockage — were reported after vaccination with RotaTeq, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the number of cases in vaccinated children was similar to the number of cases in unvaccinated children and concluded that the vaccine didn't increase a child's risk of intussusception. A similar anti-rotavirus vaccine (RotaShield) was pulled from the market in 1999 because of an association with intussusception.

    If after vaccination your child has stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in his or her stool, or a change in bowel movements, contact your doctor immediately.

  • Rotarix. This vaccine is a liquid given in two doses to infants at ages 2 months and 4 months. Clinical trials of the vaccine detected no increased risk of intussusception.