Dehydration In Children And Babies

September 14, 2023

Dehydration In Children And Babies

Now the summer holidays are in full swing; staying hydrated is more important than ever during the summer months. This blog will give adults and parents all the information they need about dehydration in children and babies, from signs and causes to treatments and tips to keep your babies and children hydrated. 


What Is Dehydration?

Your children will become dehydrated when their bodies lose more fluids than they take in. Their body’s normal water content is significantly reduced, affecting how they function. Water makes up more than half of our bodies; but we will lose fluid throughout the day through sweating, urinating and breathing. So, you must ensure your children regularly intake fluids to help them remain hydrated and not only when they are thirsty. Dehydration can make your children and babies very ill – and will lead to a range of symptoms and conditions if not treated.

Signs Of Dehydration In Babies

When babies suffer from dehydration, they will exhibit a number of signs and symptoms that parents should look out for: 


  • Dark yellow urine
  • Drowsiness
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Dry mouth
  • Sunken fontanelle (this is the soft spot on your baby’s head)
  • Fast breathing
  • More dry nappies than usual
  • Cold hands and feet, and mottled (blotchy) skin


If your baby displays any of the signs or symptoms listed above, you must call your doctor or visit A&E as soon as possible. Babies’ symptoms can accelerate quickly, therefore, you must seek medical assistance as soon as possible if you are concerned or unsure what to do.

Signs Of Dehydration In Children

The signs and symptoms of dehydration in children differ slightly from babies. Therefore, you should familiarise yourself with them to help you differentiate between the two:

  • Dry tongue, mouth, and lips
  • Rapid breathing
  • No tears when crying
  • Sunken eyes
  • No urination for more than eight hours
  • Cold and blotchy hands and feet

You must call a doctor if your child displays the signs and symptoms listed above. If your child is already ill with persistent sickness or diarrhoea, you should also call your doctor, as this can accelerate the symptoms of dehydration. Try not to worry, as dehydration can be treated with the correct medical care. 

What Causes Dehydration?

There is a list of potential causes of dehydration in babies and children. Often, you will find that your baby or child has fallen ill with dehydration due to an illness like the flu. Viruses that cause gastroenteritis (tummy bugs) are also common causes of dehydration. Take a look at the list of other common causes below:

If you are concerned about your child, always seek medical advice from a family doctor or paediatrician.

Stages Of Dehydration

There are three stages of dehydration. These are mild, moderate, and severe:

  • Mild: During this stage, your child may develop mild symptoms such as fatigue and dizziness. This stage can usually be treated without the need for medical assistance by giving fluids at home. 
  • Moderate: More severe symptoms such as fast breathing may develop. Seek medical attention to help you get your child’s symptoms under control. 
  • Severe: The severe stage is a cause for concern as it can lead to more serious complications such as seizures. Always call for emergency help or attend an emergency department if you are concerned about your child being severely dehydrated. The good news is that your child is unlikely to reach the severe stage if you treat their condition in its early stages.

How Much Fluid Does A Baby Need To Stay Hydrated?

Babies under a year old need about 4-8 ounces of fluid daily to remain hydrated. As they grow older, you can aim for around six to eight cups of liquid each day. This can include water or a sugar-free diluting juice and milk. Avoid giving your children fizzy drinks. 

Six to eight cups may sound like a lot for a young child. However, the amount of fluid per cup will differ depending on the child’s age. For example, children under the age of five can have 120-150ml of fluid per cup. Children over the age of six can have 250-300ml per cup. If you struggle to get your children to drink, you can also give them specific foods that are an excellent source of fluids, such as soup, jelly, and yoghurt.

How To Stay Hydrated

There are plenty of things parents/adults can do to help their children and babies remain hydrated. Hydration is especially important in the summer months as the heat can increase dehydration causes such as sweating. We have compiled a list of top tips below to help you get started:

  • Ensure they drink plenty of water throughout the day. Not only when they are thirsty. 
  • Stay in shaded areas as much as possible. 
  • Do not encourage your children to engage in any strenuous activities when it is really hot.
  • Ensure your children have a drink to hand at all times.
  • Give your children plenty of fluids before they play outdoors.

Dehydration Treatment

The only effective way to treat dehydration is to replace any lost fluids. If your child or baby is suffering from dehydration, there are a few treatments you can try at home to help. Give small volumes of fluids frequently. Any fluid is fine but oral rehydration solutions such as Dioralyte are best to use. Dioralyte works by replacing the salts and water lost from the body. You can buy Dioralyte over the counter from most pharmacies and supermarkets. 

Always seek guidance from a doctor or paediatrician if you are concerned. If your child’s condition worsens, they can help you manage it effectively. 

If you would like to know more about us at Childhealthy and what we can do to help you look after your child’s health, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Help and advice

If you would like to find out more, please don’t hesitate to book a consultation today. We aim to respond to your query as soon as possible.




Disclaimer: Information contained in this article is intended as general advice and does not replace a medical assessment. If you are concerned about your child please contact your doctor for advice.


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