In the United States, young children have about two episodes of diarrhea each year. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration much more quickly in children than in adults, so it’s important to know how to treat your child’s diarrhea. Imodium is one drug that’s used to control diarrhea. We’ll tell you about Imodium and when it should and shouldn’t be used for kids. This information can help you keep your child as safe and comfortable as possible while you treat their diarrhea.

You should be sure to get the OK from your child’s doctor before giving Imodium to your child. This is particularly important if your child is younger than 6 years. Imodium should not be used in children who are younger than 2 years. If your child has a medical condition that’s causing the diarrhea, talk to your child’s doctor first before using Imodium.

Do not use Imodium to treat your child for more than one day. If your child has diarrhea that lasts more than one day, stop giving them Imodium and call their doctor right away. You should also call your child’s doctor if your child has any of the following symptoms:

  • a fever of 102°F (39°C) or higher
  • stools that are black and tarry or stools with blood or pus

Younger children (ages 2–5 years) should only take the liquid form of Imodium. Children who are older than 6 years may take the capsules or tablets as well. If your child can’t swallow a capsule, you can open the capsule and sprinkle it on food. The food should be something that the medication can mix with, such as applesauce.

The dosage of Imodium that you give your child should be based on your child’s weight or age. You can use the following table as a guide, but it’s better to ask your pharmacist or child’s doctor for a specific dosage.

Age WeightDosage for tablet or capsule Dosage for liquid
2–5 years 13–20 kg (29–44 lbs.)NA* 7.5 mL (1½ teaspoons) after first loose stool Do not give more than 22.5 mL (4½ teaspoons) in 24 hours.
6–8 years20–30 kg (44–66 lbs.)2 mg given two times per day (4-mg total daily dose)15 mL (3 teaspoons) after first loose stool 7.5 mL (1½ teaspoons) after each following loose stool Do not give more than 30 mL (6 teaspoons) in 24 hours.
8–12 yearsheavier than 30 kg (66 lbs.)2 mg given three times per day (6-mg total daily dose)15 mL (3 teaspoons) after first loose stool 7.5 mL (1½ teaspoons) after each following loose stool Do not give more than 45 mL (9 teaspoons) in 24 hours.
12–17 yearsheavier than 30 kg (66 lbs.)4 mg given two times per day or 2 mg given four times per day (8 mg total daily dose)30 mL (6 teaspoons) after the first loose stool 15 mL (3 teaspoons) after each following loose stool Do not give more than 60 mL (12 teaspoons) in 24 hours.
*NA = not applicable

Imodium can affect children differently than it can affect adults. You should watch your child closely for side effects. Side effects of Imodium in children can include:

  • constipation
  • dry mouth
  • gas
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • stomach pain or cramps
  • stomach enlargement
  • colic or repeated bouts of crying in younger children

If your child has constipation or an enlarged stomach, stop using Imodium and call their doctor.

Imodium is a brand-name drug. It’s available as both an over-the-counter and prescription medication. It usually comes as a 1-mg/7.5-mL liquid, 2-mg capsule, and 2-mg tablet. Not all forms and strengths of Imodium are used in the same way, so be sure to read the label carefully before giving the medicine to your child.

The active ingredient in Imodium is the drug loperamide. It’s used to treat symptoms of diarrhea. Loperamide works by slowing down the time it takes for food to travel through the digestive tract. This helps your child have fewer stools. Imodium also makes their stools more bulky and less watery, which helps decrease the loss of fluids and electrolytes from their body. Electrolytes are important minerals that help with many body functions.

Dehydration can happen more quickly in children than in adults. Diarrhea is an easy way for your child to lose a lot of body water. To help prevent dehydration, make sure that your child drinks plenty of water and other liquids while they have diarrhea. If your child does develop symptoms of dehydration, call their doctor right away. Symptoms of dehydration in children include:

  • dry mouth and tongue
  • no tears when they cry
  • no wet diapers for three hours or longer
  • sunken eyes or cheeks or a soft spot in their skull
  • high fever
  • lack of energy
  • irritability

Diarrhea also causes your child to lose electrolytes, which are salts and minerals that their body needs to work well. Water does not contain electrolytes, so you may need to give your child other liquids. Some examples of drinks that contain electrolytes are Pedialyte, Naturalyte, Infalyte, or CeraLyte. All of these products are available over the counter. That means you’ll likely find them in the aisles of your local pharmacy. You can ask your pharmacist for advice about which drinks are best for your child and how much to give them.

As with any medication, talk with your doctor before you give Imodium to your child. When you’re considering using Imodium to stop your child’s diarrhea, keep these things in mind:

  • Don’t give Imodium to children younger than 2 years.
  • Use only the liquid form for children who are 2–5 years of age.
  • Don’t give Imodium to your child for longer than one day.
  • Call your child’s doctor if your child has diarrhea for longer than one day or has black and tarry stools or stools with blood or pus.
  • Watch your child closely for dehydration while they have diarrhea and make sure they drink plenty of fluids.