Jun 06 , 2020
We follow a cycle of losing and replenishing fluids every day. People naturally lose water in their bodies when they sweat, tear up, or go to the bathroom. However, dehydration can occur when we aren’t able to replace our lost bodily fluids through drinking or bathing, or when we end up losing too much water during bouts of illness.
Babies are also very prone to dehydration. When a baby sweats too much in hot weather or doesn’t drink enough breastmilk or formula, his body weakens and stops functioning as it should. Dehydration can cause problems with the heart and blood, and even lead to complications like seizures and cerebral hemorrhages. Here’s what you need to know about dehydration in babies.
Signs And Symptoms Of Dehydration
Dehydration can range from moderate to severe. Babies who aren’t receiving enough fluids will often become low on energy, urinate less, and cry without tears. Here are the main signs and symptoms of dehydration that you should watch out for:
- Dry lips and mouth
- A grumpy and irritable mood
- Difficulty feeding
- Crying without tears
- Sleeping more than usual
- Dark yellow or orange-colored urine
- Less than 6 dirty diapers a day
- Severe thirst
Other Signs To Watch Out For
In addition to the common symptoms listed above, severely dehydrated babies can also display these worrying symptoms:
- Wrinkles on the skin
- Cold and discolored hands and feet
- Little to no urination at all
- Little to no appetite
- Sunken eyes and a soft spot on the head
- Nausea after daily feedings
- Diarrhea for more than eight hours
If your baby has shown some of the symptoms listed above you should call the doctor right away. Not treating dehydration right away can result in further health complications for your little one.
Causes Of Dehydration
Babies often become dehydrated due to illness or not taking in enough fluids every day. Dehydration can also occur when babies sweat way too much during the warm season or cry more than usual. Here are some common causes of dehydration to keep in mind.
Newborns and older babies often become dehydrated when they refuse to breastfeed or bottle feed due to a number of reasons. Newborn babies might become dehydrated when they can’t latch on to their mother’s breast during feeding or when they aren’t allowed to breastfeed for as long as they should. Dehydration can also occur in newborns when mothers aren’t able to produce enough breastmilk every day.
Bottle-fed babies are just as prone to dehydration as their breastfed brethren. Babies become dehydrated when they aren’t able to drink bottled formula or pumped breastmilk as often as they should. Reduced appetites can often happen due to pain or irritation, as well as fatigue and problems with breathing. If your baby suddenly stops accepting breastmilk or formula, you might want to check whether he’s suffering from severe fever or other health problems.
Unclogging your baby’s nose should also improve his appetite. You might be tempted to reach for earbuds or napkins to do this, but they can actually scratch up the nose canal and cause even further irritation. Electric nasal aspirators work much better since they suck up snot and mucus without causing any pain to your baby’s nose, ears, and head. If you have a hard time finding a good aspirator for your home, you can order one off our store with just one click.
Excessive Sweating And Exposure To Heat
We normally make up for lost body fluids by drinking plenty of water and sports drinks every day. However, it isn’t as easy for babies to recover from excessive sweating. Babies who sweat too much due to hot weather and humidity can easily lose too many of their fluids and become rather dehydrated.
Even if you don’t spend too much time outside with your little one dehydration can still strike when you least expect it. A lack of proper ventilation or too many layers of clothing in the summer make it much easier for a baby to sweat severely. Opening a few windows to let the air in and using comfy cotton clothing during the warm season should keep your baby away from any trouble.
Diarrhea is perhaps one of the most common causes of dehydration in babies. Since babies have fewer deposits of water in the body than adults and kids, they become very prone to dehydration during bouts of illness.
Babies struggling with diarrhea lose both body fluids and electrolytes while urinating or pooping. In fact, they can even become severely dehydrated when they have to contend not only with dehydration but also with vomiting and fever.
Fever And Other Illnesses
Fever, gastroenteritis, and other childhood maladies can also cause problems like nausea, excessive stool, sweating, and a reduced appetite. Babies won’t have an easy time eating or drinking if they’re in pain, and they can even lose lots of fluids while contending with severe symptoms. It’s vital to not only treat your baby’s dehydration, but also provide adequate medications and soothing during difficult bouts of illness.
Treatments For Dehydration
Fluid therapy is usually the best treatment for dehydrated babies. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) recommends giving babies an oral rehydration solution (ORS) made of water, salt, and sugar. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also recommends that babies who are dehydrated due to diarrhea not drink any milk products for 24 to 48 hours to avoid problems with digestion. Breastfeeding should definitely be continued as this will help provide babies with the strength needed to survive an illness.
The NCBI recommends that parents give oral rehydration solutions according to this schedule during the first six hours of dehydration:
- Babies aged 6 months and under: 30 to 90mL (1 to 3 ounces) of ORS every hour
- Babies aged 6 to 24 months: 90 to 125 mL (3 to 4 ounces) of ORS every hour
- Babies older than 2 years: 125 to 250 mL (4 to 8 ounces) of ORS every hour
In case of vomiting, you should stop giving food and drinks for a while. Keep administering 1 tablespoon of ORS every 10 to 15 minutes until the vomiting stops. After that, continue giving regular amounts of ORS.
Kids can normally resume their normal diet after 24 to 48 hours of dehydration. Your pediatrician might recommend that older babies or toddlers eat a diet comprised of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast while they recover from dehydration.
Medical attention is a must for cases of mild to severe dehydration. When babies don’t recover from ORS, they need to replenish their fluids by getting intravenous fluids (IV fluids) in the hospital. In some cases, babies might also need to receive fluids through a nasogastric (NG) tube. This tube usually helps pass fluids through the nose up to the stomach. While your baby is at the hospital it’s important to monitor whether they’re receiving all the fluids they need and to provide additional medicines if needed.
Dehydration is perfectly curable and preventable. Taking proper precautions should spare you and your baby from unneeded stress and agony. Here are some ways you can prevent the onset of infant dehydration.
Maintain Regular Feedings
If your baby suddenly stops feeding you’ll need to trace the root cause right away. Visiting your local pediatrician should help you figure out what problems need to be addressed. Your baby could simply have problems latching onto you during breastfeeding, or he might also be struggling with earaches and a sore throat. Breastfed and bottle-fed babies should be given adequate milk every two to three hours.
It might be better to stay home if the weather outside is too hot or humid for comfort. If you have no choice but to leave the house with your baby, you can reduce sweating by letting your baby wear comfortable cotton clothing or providing adequate cooling and shade. You should also provide fluids as much as possible to make up for lost sweat.
Keep In Touch With Your Doctor
Keeping up regular appointments with your pediatrician will help you avoid any serious and stressful health problems. Your pediatrician can also provide advice for proper feedings, as well as check whether your baby has some underlying health problems that can cause dehydration.
Give Milk, Not Water
Water isn’t that helpful for bouts of dehydration. It doesn’t have the nutrients and electrolytes needed to provide your baby with strength and energy. Breastmilk and formula do a far better job of helping your baby replenish lost fluids.
Wash Your Hands (And Other Necessary Things)
Diarrhea is often caused by germs stuck to your hands or other surfaces. The best way to avoid the spread of nasty germs is to simply wash your hands before and after handling bottles, food, or diapers, as well as disinfecting other things that your baby might come into contact with.