Food Poisoning In Babies: Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Food Poisoning In Babies: Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

12 Oct 2022 | 4 min Read

Reema Shah

Author | 740 Articles

Food poisoning occurs when your baby or toddler eats food or drinks water that’s contaminated with disease-causing bacteria. There are some viruses as well that can cause food poisoning in babies and older children along with adults as well. Because the immune system of children younger than five years is still developing, they are at a higher risk of food poisoning than the general population.

What Is Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning is the result of eating toxic, contaminated, stale and spoiled food. Some common symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, nausea, and diarrhoea.

While the food born illness or food poisoning is quite uncomfortable, it isn’t unusual. 

Symptoms Of Food Poisoning

If your little one has food poisoning, the symptoms will usually appear two to 48 hours after he eats the food. While the symptoms will usually last a day or two, they can continue for a week or more in severe cases.

Here are some common symptoms:

  • wind
  • nausea or vomiting
  • headache
  • stomach pain and cramps
  • diarrhoea which may sometimes have blood
  • fever

The symptoms of food poisoning in babies can be more severe than in older children and teenagers.

Food Poisoning In Babies and symptoms of food poisoning
Fever is one of the common symptoms of food poisoning that you must watch out for / Image credit – Canva

Diagnosis Of Food Poisoning In Babies

Based on the symptoms, a doctor may be able to diagnose the type of food poisoning your baby has. In severe cases, blood tests, stool tests, and tests on food that your little one has eaten maybe be performed to determine what’s responsible for the food poisoning. A doctor may also use a urine test to evaluate whether your baby is dehydrated as a result of food poisoning.

Treatment For Food Poisoning

Most cases of food poisoning are mild, and your baby won’t need any specific treatment. However, it’s important to ensure that your baby has enough to drink.


Give your little one small amounts to drink often – for example, a few mouthfuls every 15 minutes as it will help to prevent dehydration.

It’s best to use oral rehydration fluids in case your baby is older than six months after getting a doctor’s recommendation. You can purchase these fluids over the counter from a pharmacy. These products might come in the form of powder, premade liquid or icy poles for freezing. Ensure that you make up the liquid carefully as per the instructions on the packet.

Use diluted lemonade, cordial or fruit juice if you can’t get oral rehydration fluid. Use one part lemonade or juice to four parts water. It’s important to know that full-strength lemonade, cordial or fruit juice might make the diarrhoea worse, so don’t make your child drink these.

If you have a breastfed baby, breastfeed more often during this time. Give your child extra oral rehydration fluid between feeds in case of older babies.

Food Poisoning In Babies
Food poisoning in babies can be more severe as their immune system is still developing / Image credit – Canva

If your baby is bottle-fed, give oral rehydration fluid only for the first 24 hours and then reintroduce full-strength formula in smaller, more frequent feeds. You can also offer extra oral rehydration fluids between feeds.

Your child might not want to drink fluids. You can try to get your child to drink more fluids by giving them drinks via a syringe or spoon and letting them suck icy poles.


Your child might refuse to have food. However, don’t stop food for more than 24 hours. You can give your child food at the same time as fluid when he/she is hungry. It’s normally best to start with bland foods like rice, potato, plain biscuits, bread, or jelly. They can start eating other foods slowly.

Avoid giving dairy products to your child dairy for 7-10 days after an episode of food poisoning, as this might make the diarrhoea go on longer.

Additional Treatment

If your child is excessively dehydrated or can’t keep oral fluids down, they might need fluids to be given using a tube that goes up their nose and into the stomach or directly into a vein through a drip. Take your child to the hospital in this case.

Cover image credit – Pexels



Suggestions offered by doctors on BabyChakra are of advisory nature i.e., for educational and informational purposes only. Content posted on, created for, or compiled by BabyChakra is not intended or designed to replace your doctor's independent judgment about any symptom, condition, or the appropriateness or risks of a procedure or treatment for a given person.