Babies & ToddlersKidsPre-School

What to do if your baby is dehydrated

Dehydration occurs when your infant has lost an excessive amount of water and is unable to replace it quickly enough.

If your baby has diarrhoea, it’s critical that you keep him or her hydrated; otherwise, your tot may end up in the emergency room.

Did you know that babies, in particular, can quickly become dehydrated if they have diarrhoea? That’s because their tiny bodies have limited fluid reserves and a high metabolic rate, making it easy for them to lose the water and electrolytes they require to function. If fluids are not replaced, the outcome can become critical within days.

Signs of dehydration in babies

Here are some warning signs of dehydration in babies:

  • Sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Thirst
  • Less elasticity in the skin
  • Sunken eyes and fontanel (or soft spot on the head)
  • Decreased or absent tears
  • Dry mouth

Signs of dehydration in older children

Common signs of dehydration in older babies and toddlers include:

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • A dry nappy for six hours or longer
  • Sunken eyes
  • Constipation
  • Cold hands
  • Fast breathing
  • Fast heart rate

Causes of dehydration in babies and toddlers

Possible causes of dehydration in children include:

  • Baby not being able to suck milk from a nipple or bottle adequately
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Overheating

How to rehydrate your baby

Treatments and remedies for your child’s dehydration vary depending on the cause and age of your child.

To rehydrate a baby’s body, doctors frequently recommend an oral rehydration solution (ORS) in small and frequent doses. Parents are encouraged to administer the solution even if the baby is vomiting.

According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, the rehydration treatment will not stop the diarrhoea, but will keep the body hydrated until the illness is over. A young child is considered hydrated if they have normal urine output – at least six wet nappies per day for infants and toddlers.

How much fluid to give your child

The amount of rehydration fluid you should give your baby is determined by your child’s weight and level of dehydration.

Children weighing less than 10 kg should drink 60 to 120 ml of ORS for each episode of vomiting or diarrhoea, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Those who weigh more than 10 kg should consume 120 to 240 ml of ORS.

As your child’s condition improves, your paediatrician may recommend the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.

When to seek medical attention

You should seek medical attention if your child exhibits signs of moderate to severe dehydration. Doctors will most likely draw blood to check your child’s electrolyte levels and may prescribe intravenous fluids (IV).

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