How to Detect Dehydration in Baby

When it comes to taking care of Baby, a major challenge is she can’t simply tell you what she needs or when something is wrong. For this reason, it’s vitally important as a parent to stay aware of your baby's health and condition and to be vigilant of signs and signals that reveal illness or poor health. The effects of dehydration in an infant or baby may be grave, so remain alert and able to detect symptoms so you can act quickly should your baby be in need of assistance.

What is Dehydration?

Dehydration occurs in your baby when her body loses so much fluid, it cannot function normally.

Why Does Dehydration Occur?

Dehydration may occur in babies and infants for a number of reasons. Sometimes it's the result of not getting enough nutrition or breastmilk, or it can be caused by vomiting, diarrhea, excessive sweating, and fever. Dehydration is more likely to occur in little ones than adults because little bodies are able to store less fluid.

What Are Symptoms of Dehydration?

Watch for these symptoms of dehydration in your baby:

  • a sunken soft spot (fontanelle) on her head
  • few or no tears when she cries
  • rapid breathing
  • fewer wet diapers
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth

What are the Effects of Dehydration?

The effects of dehyrdration are very serious and sometimes fatal. It can cause seizures, kidney failure, coma, and even death.

How Can I Prevent Dehydration?

It’s best to prevent dehydration from occurring in the first place. Although dehydration can occur in any weather, it is more common in hot weather when your baby is losing fluids through sweating, so be especially vigilant in warm climates.

If your baby has a fever, she may be sweating, so ensure she stays properly hydrated and keep a close eye on her for any of the symptoms above.

If you are breastfeeding, feed your baby often and on demand.  An exclusively breastfed baby should not need water if she is getting adequate breastmilk. On a hot day, you may notice your baby showing signs she is hungry more often than usual, so offer your breast frequently.

A formula fed baby can be given cool boiled water in addition to her normal milk feeds.

If you’re going on holiday somewhere warm, or it’s a hot day, take steps to prevent your baby from overheating.

What Should I Do if I Suspect Baby is Dehydrated?

You should seek medical assistance right away if you think your baby has become dehydrated and follow your pediatrician's instructions. Mild dehydration can often be treated at home but you should always contact your doctor for guidance.

Any concerns about your child's health should be discussed with your child's doctor or other health professional.