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Dehydration in Infants: Learn the Signs


Our bodies are made up of a lot of water. In fact, a newborn's body contains about 75% water. While that amount decreases slightly as they grow, it doesn’t change the importance of making sure that your little one stays hydrated. All humans lose small amounts of water by simply existing and breathing, coughing, sweating, crying, and more. That water is replenished through the foods and drinks we ingest, and infants get all the liquids they need from breastmilk or formula until they are about six months old. Sometimes, things happen that cause infants to lose more water than normal – things like fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, or extreme heat. It’s important to know the signs of dehydration and how to treat it if it happens.

To prevent dehydration due to the warmer weather, make sure not to “over dress” your newborn. If it’s hot outside, keep her in breathable clothing, ditch the blankets during bed time, and keep your little one out of the sun. Preventing dehydration due to a cold or virus starts with preventing the illness to start. Make sure to keep your hands washed frequently to help keep those germs away.

Little kid sitting in stroller and drinking water from bottle during walk at hot summer day. Mom feeding infant boy with drink. Danger of dehydration under direct sun heat

If your infant is displaying any of the following symptoms, s/he may be dehydrated:

  • Sunken-in “soft spot”
  • No wet diapers for three hours
  • Fever
  • Dry mouth
  • No tears when crying
  • Unusually drowsy 
  • Dry skin
  • Sunken in eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormally fussy

Once you have identified that your little one is dehydrated, you can begin to treat it. It’s important to keep trying liquids, since rehydration is the only thing that will cure it. If your baby has been vomiting, wait about an hour and try nursing or formula again. Start with feeding your baby small amounts at a time, to see if your baby will keep it down, and slowly increase it.

If you find that your little one isn’t getting better, and can’t keep liquids down; call your doctor's office so they can advise on further action. They may recommend the use of a liquid with electrolytes in it, but always consult your doctor before giving these types of drinks to your baby. Remember that a phone call to your doctor can never hurt!  

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