For the first few months of life, babies are on a purely liquid diet, whether they are breastfed or bottle-fed. Therefore, it may be surprising that babies can sometimes become dehydrated like adults.
Having a dehydrated baby means that your baby has lost too much water and cannot drink enough fluids (milk) to replace it right away. Babies and toddlers lose water easily and become dehydrated because of their small size. A baby’s health can be severely affected by dehydration if left untreated.
Signs of dehydration
In the event your child is vomiting (not just spitting up milk), has diarrhea or has otherwise been ill, or if you have been spending long periods of time outside in hot weather, you need to check for signs of dehydration.
The most common signs of dehydration include
- Wrinkled skin
- Dry mouth
- Dry lips
- Excessive sleepiness
- No tears when crying
- Not Hungry
Dehydration can occur quickly in babies. Keep an eye out for these symptoms.
Causes of dehydration
A number of factors can cause dehydration. Although it can affect anyone at any age, it is most common in children.
Infants and newborns become dehydrated for many reasons, including:
- Vomiting – When babies can’t keep down their feedings, they lose fluids that their bodies need. Frequent vomiting can cause dehydration very quickly.
- Excessive heat – High temperatures, extreme humidity, or too much time outdoors in the hot sun may cause your baby to sweat and lose fluids through the skin.
- Fever – Your child may lose more fluids if their body temperature rises. Babies with fever may also not take their feeds as well.
- Diarrhea – In children with diarrhea, fluid is lost with each bowel movement (sometimes significantly).
- Breastfeeding issues – When breastfed babies don’t latch on correctly, don’t breastfeed often or long enough, or have an issue with their breast milk supply, they can become dehydrated.
- Bottle-feeding issues – Bottle-fed Babies may become dehydrated if they don’t drink enough infant formula or pump breast milk each feeding.
Newborns and young infants usually become dehydrated from insufficient fluids to replace what they lose during the day.
The way you treat dehydration depends a lot on your baby’s age and whether it’s the result of illness or another factor, such as a poor latch. Everything is more complex when you’re dealing with a newborn. You should contact your doctor if your baby is less than three months old and not getting enough milk or formula. You can also try some of the following remedies:
Try out different formulas – It is normal for babies to spit up and even vomit as they get used to digesting milk. When formula-feeding, try a different formula from well-known manufacturers, such as HiPP, Holle, or Kendamil formula, to determine if your baby prefers it.
Sponge baths are good for fevers – When your baby or toddler has a fever, try sponging them down with lukewarm water.
Dress your baby in light clothing during night sweats – To prevent your baby or toddler from overheating at night, dress them in breathable clothing, choose lighter bedding, and lower the temperature in your home.
Because of their small size, babies and toddlers can sometimes become dehydrated. Children who vomit or have diarrhea can become dehydrated quickly. Babies can also become dehydrated if they don’t receive enough liquid through normal feedings.
Infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to serious dehydration. A high fever or symptoms of dehydration should be reported to your doctor immediately.