Last week, I thought my 16-month-old baby was teething again. I learned early on that babies normally start teething around four to eight months. The majority of Levi’s teeth had grown in by the time he was 11 months old. The only reason I thought he was teething was because he was having explosive diarrhea. 

Some of the teething symptoms include “irritability, disrupted sleep, swelling of the gums, drooling, loss of appetite, rash around the mouth, mild temperature, diarrhea, increased biting, gum-rubbing and even ear-rubbing” according to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles website. They also state that teething will continue until 30–36 months, when the last set of molars appears.

We took Levi to his pediatrician because the diarrhea was only worsening. My partner and I would take turns changing his diapers because they smelled horrible. I remember telling my partner, “this is not what I signed up for.”

Truthfully, I’m OK with changing the normal amount of diapers in a day, which is about five at most. But last week, Levi was making us change diapers at least 10 times a day for about three days. We literally had to buy a new box of diapers because he almost finished the ones he had. And if you know, diapers are not cheap. We also had to constantly change his bottoms because diarrhea would leak through and that was not fun at all.

When the doctor asked about Levi’s symptoms, we said that he had only been experiencing diarrhea. Levi, at this point, was still eating fine and had no other problems besides a diaper rash. His doctor performed a regular check-up, which included probing his eyes, nose and tongue. The pediatrician carefully checked my son’s tiny heart and growing lungs and made some observations around his stomach.

baby stomach virus
The doctor was going to hear Levi’s heart and make sure everything sounded right.

The doctor then said he would discuss Levi’s diagnosis with his colleagues. His announcement that he needed to get advice from other doctors made it a bit scarier for me somehow.

As soon as he left the room, with Levi laying on the examination table while playing with his toys, my partner and I started to make our own diagnosis.

Our leading theory that he was teething was completely wrong. Levi’s doctor informed us that he had an intestinal virus, which is a stomach virus. Rotavirus is one of the most common causes of diarrhea and upset stomach in infants and young children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Symptoms usually start about two days after a person is exposed to rotavirus. “The stomach flu is generally caused by viruses, but it can also be caused by bacteria,” according to Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles. Also, vomiting and watery diarrhea can last three to eight days. For Levi, diarrhea had been a problem for almost a week. Levi’s doctor was surprised that no one else in our household was sick, because it can be easily spread from person to person. The last thing we needed was two grown adults with diarrhea creating their own loads of extra laundry.

The doctor said that he couldn’t provide medicine to Levi because you can’t treat a virus. The only thing we could do was wait it out until he felt better. The most helpful advice was to avoid sugary drinks as they may make diarrhea worse. It made total sense why Levi’s diarrhea was worsening after we gave him apple juice a couple of times. The doctor also emphasized keeping Levy hydrated because diarrhea and vomiting are common causes of dehydration in children and adults. Also, he recommended that we continue to give Levi water and Pedialyte drinks and feed him regular foods with high protein. According to the doctor, a lot of kids usually lose their appetite but Levi did not. Providing him with the food he needed to feel better was easy. He had eggs for breakfast, veggies for lunch and chicken soup for dinner. 

According to Levi’s doctor, intestinal viruses are highly contagious, so it’s important that everyone in the household wash their hands well before eating or preparing food and after going to the bathroom. It is also crucial to wash your hands after changing diapers, wiping your child in the bathroom or cleaning up poop or vomit accidents. If possible, wear rubber gloves when cleaning. The CDC recommends washing hands thoroughly with soap and water, as hand sanitizers are not as effective against norovirus.

If you notice that the baby gets a fever, presents blood in the stool, is sleepy or not eating at all, make sure to call the baby’s pediatrician for further instructions.

doctor´s baby
Levi getting an eye examination as part of his vital check.

Having recently become parents, we realized this will not be our first time handling situations like these. There will definitely be much more, not just with our first kid but when we decide to have a second or third kid in the future.

So, please be careful out there everyone! You never know who has what or what virus is hanging around. Keep extra hand sanitizer and wipes in your pocket during this crazy flu/virus season! 

If there is anything I can help young mothers and fathers with, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at

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Amairani Hernandez is a native of Los Angeles and a graduate of the California State University of Los Angeles with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She is a staff multimedia journalist, who focuses on...