Signs of Dehydration in Babies & Children: Causes and Treatment

Dehydration can be a serious issue for babies and children, so it’s important to know the signs and causes. Here are the signs of dehydration in babies and children, along with tips on how to treat severe dehydration in babies.

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Dehydration is a serious condition that can be difficult to spot. It occurs when the body does not have enough water to function properly. When the body is dehydrated, the cells do not have enough water to perform essential functions properly.

If you think that your baby or child is dehydrated, seek professional medical advice immediately. Proper hydration plays an important role in the overall development of infants and toddlers.

As such, it is important to monitor hydration levels and be aware of the signs of dehydration. So you can intervene as soon as possible. In this blog post, we will discuss the signs of dehydration in babies and children. As well as what causes dehydration and how it should be treated.

What are the early signs of a dehydrated baby?

Though the earliest signs of dehydration in a baby is a loss of appetite and excessive thirst or sore throat. This can be noticed long before any significant weight loss, especially if your infant is nursing well up until that time. As well there are many baby dehydration symptoms that you should be aware of. Below you will get some warning signs of severe dehydration in infants and they are:

1. Dry mouth and cracked lips

The lips of a dehydrated baby or child can split and turn dry and hard. In hot weather, your baby’s lips may crack and bleed and this could indicate a serious lack of hydration. This will happen as the skin tries to protect itself from the damage of dehydration. A dehydrated baby’s tongue will feel dry and rough. This is a less common signs of dehydration in newborns babies as they cannot communicate this to their parents. And dry mouth is other sign of dehydration in babies, even though they are drinking extra fluids.

2. Sunken soft spot on head and sunken eyes

These are the early infant dehydration symptoms that will be noticed soon after the baby gets dehydrated. After birth, infants will have a sunken soft spot on their skull because of the plates in their heads that are not yet fused. And dehydration in newborns, this area starts to sink in. And becomes very noticeable when you place your fingers on it. The eyes will also become sunken when the baby is dehydrated. And this can be identified by placing two fingers on the cheek to see if it feels lower than usual.

3. Few or no tears while crying

Healthy babies generally have tears that stream down their faces. While they are agitated, especially if they are hungry or tired. A dehydrated baby may produce fewer tears very rarely. Similarly in young children, you may notice that excessive tears are not present when they are crying. Although moderate dehydration may reduce the volume of tears. But it usually does not stop them completely.

4. Extreme fussiness

When a baby is dehydrated, they may cry and fuss more often than usual. They may also be very lethargic and resist being held or cuddled by their parents. They could even fall into a coma-like sleep for brief periods. As we have known that baby’s body can’t conserve water less than adults. So fluid loss in the body will result in low blood pressure and a decrease of vital oxygen. Which can lead to brain damage or even death if not provide immediate medical attention.

5. Fewer wet Diapers or dark yelllow urine

Hence, fewer or no wet diapers are the main infant dehydration symptoms. The baby’s urine should be pale yellow or clear, not dark yellow. And No wet diaper for more than 8 hours suggests dehydration. If the child does not wet 6-8 diapers in a day, they are getting dehydration. In hot weather, babies should be urinating every few hours. If there is no urination during the hot day or you find a dry diaper then your baby might be dehydrated.

6. Wrinkled skin

If you touch your baby’s skin, it will feel tacky with no signs of a rebound. Wrinkling skin is common signs of dehydration in newborn babies. If you notice the skin of your baby is blotchy, especially if this appears on their belly, cheeks and arms. This may be an indication of enough fluid loss or dehydration. In older babies you may notice that their face is more gaunt or sunken compared to their belly, which will be more swollen.

7. Fast breathing and heart rate

Normally an infant’s breathing should be very regular and the heart rate should be steady. If you notice that your child is breathing quickly or if their heart rate changes (increasing or decreasing), this may indicate dehydration. According to academic research institutions in an older baby, dehydration can cause an increase in heart rate. As a parent’s you should talk to your child’s doctor if you notice this. Though keep in mind that this could be a sign of other health issues. So it’s important to find out for sure what is causing the heart rate to change.

8. Sleeping too much

If your baby is sleeping more than usual it may be an indication of dehydration. In two or three hours, a baby should have some weight loss while sleeping. If this does not happen, it suggests your baby is not receiving all the fluids which is important for their health. In this situation, parents should provide extra fluids to their babies to prevent dehydration.

9. Cold or discolored hands

A baby with dehydration will usually have colorless or cold hands. This is one of the immediate signs to look out for. Your child’s hands should be warm and pink in color – any other coloration may suggest an issue. Dehydration makes the blood vessels in the skin constrict so your baby’s hands may feel cold to the touch. So, as a parent to treat dehydration you should be aware of your child’s body changes.

What is the main cause of dehydration in babies?

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Although true dehydration is rare in babies, untreated diarrhea can be life-threatening. The most common causes of dehydration in newborns are formula intolerance, jaundice, and infections of the gastrointestinal tract or urinary system. And below according to peer-reviewed studies we have mentioned the most common dehydration in infants causes and they are:

1. Diarrhea

Diarrhea is the most common cause of dehydration in babies. Intense diarrhea can lead to rapid loss of water, salts, and minerals through urine and stool. As we have known that diarrhea causes the body’s fluid levels to plummet. Which can affect blood flow throughout the body and brain function. In situation of diarrhea, the hydration level will become profoundly low and cause severe dehydration. And newborns often develop jaundice when they’re dehydrated quickly.

2. Sweating

All newborns can sweat, it is a normal response to body temperature. After the first week of life, babies tend to overheat more easily than adults due to their inability to regulate child body temperatures effectively. Sweating is an important way for babies to cool down. Although this doesn’t mean these infants who sweat daily have signs of dehydration, then it is better to consult your doctor.

3. Vomiting

Vomiting is a very normal occurrence in baby and young children. It occurs when they are learning to feed themselves, they do not like the taste of what they have eaten or it can be a reaction to new solid foods. Vomiting does not always lead to dehydration, but if it occurs because your child has swallowed too much fluid, then it can cause them to dehydration.

4. Overheating

Overheating increases the risk of dehydration as babies do not perspire. Dress your baby in light clothes and keep a check on room temperature. Overheating can lead to heatstroke and may even be fatal. When your child has dehydration, he/she may look flushed and their skin may feel hot. But do not use a thermometer to measure body temperature. As it is an unreliable method of getting a correct body temperature in babies.

5. Fever

When your child is running a fever, they lose more than you’d expect through their skin. Because the body responds to fever by flushing the heat out through the skin’s surface blood vessels. And there’s less blood volume available for distribution throughout the rest of the body—including to important organs like the kidneys and brain. This condition is called relative hypovolemia—which means the child has become somewhat dehydrated due to fever.

How do you treat severe dehydration in babies?

The treatment for dehydration in babies and children is based on correcting fluid and electrolyte solution imbalances as well as any existing medical conditions emergency room. In addition, rehydration therapy is recommended. Hence, to prevent dehydration in babies and child there are many solutions and treatments available for parents.

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1. Breastfeed regularly

For dehydration treated breast milk or formula are the best treatment you can provide to your child. Additionally, regular feedings help to make sure that your baby gets enough iron and any other nutrients he or she may be lacking. The best way of preventing dehydration in babies is to start giving breast milk and other fluids too.

2. Giving sponge bath

A sponge bath is a quick way to rehydrate a baby. In this method, babies are kept warm and parents should use hot water for the sponge bath. As it increases the amount of fluid that is drawn from the skin into the blood. It also helps in restoring proper hydration levels by bringing down core temperature.

3. Dress your baby in breathable clothing

However, you must dress your baby in breathable clothing. As babies can easily get dehydrated, it’s necessary to keep them cool, yet covered up to avoid the buildup of heat. The best fabrics for hot weather are cotton or synthetic so babies stay comfortable and safe from overheating. And this type of clothing is important because if your baby’s clothes are wet with sweat. Then they can’t get evaporated which only makes the temperature worse.

4. Provide oral rehydration solution

Oral rehydration solution is the most effective way to treat dehydration in babies. As infants cannot control their fluid intake, they depend on breast milk or infant formula for hydration. After lactation consultant you can also use electrolyte solution. Hence, parents must make sure not to deprive them of it. This solution provides an adequate amount of electrolytes, carbohydrates, and minerals to help treat the condition.

5. Give enough fluids until urine color is clear

So, providing fluids to children is the best way to treat severe dehydration in babies. Give your child diluted fruit juices or sports drinks as possible. It is also a good idea to give your child clear broths and water first. And for your baby urine should be light yellow. Do not give your child milk until the fluids have been replaced because it will make him or her vomit.

The Conclusion.

Dehydration can cause serious health problems in babies and children. So, remember to keep an eye out for these signs of dehydration in your child. It’s important that they get the fluids necessary to stay healthy and thrive. They may not be present at all times, and some can also manifest themselves differently depending on an individual’s age. So it is vital you know what to look for when things are not going well. Let us know if you see any of these symptoms through a comment section. And we will help you to provide treatment recommendations, respectively.

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