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Spotting and Preventing Dehydration in Babies

Your baby's little body can't store a lot of fluids, so dehydration can happen fast. Know the signs so you can keep your infant safe.#KeepingBabyHydratedinHotWeather #BabyHealth #Family #MondayMorningMomsChildCare

Spotting and Preventing Dehydration in Babies

If it seems like all your baby does is sleep, eat and deliver dirty diapers, things are exactly as they should be. Babies’ tummies are tiny and, compared with bigger kids and adults, reserve less fluid in their bodies. Add that to their super-busy metabolism and you can see why they need to eat (or, more accurately, drink) around the clock.

While babies can get all the fluids they need from their regular feedings, if your baby is exposed to extreme temperatures or loses fluids due to vomiting, diarrhea or sweating, she can quickly become dehydrated. Here are the signs of dehydration along with how to prevent and treat it in babies.

How much fluid do babies need?

Until she's about 5 or 6 months old (when she begins eating solid foods), your baby gets all the liquids and nutrients she needs just from breast milk or formula. That means there’s no need to give her water or juice just to keep her hydrated, even if it’s hot outside.

Once your baby has started solids, small amounts of fluids will start to come from other sources, such as fruits and vegetables, as well as sips of water. As the quantity of formula or breast milk your baby takes begins to decrease, it’s important to be sure that her total fluid intake doesn’t. And in hot weather, your little one's fluid intake should increase, so offer more milk and water when temperatures soar — which means it’s especially important to take plenty of fluids with you on any family outings.

Signs of dehydration in babies

If your baby is vomiting (not just spitting up small amounts of milk), has diarrhea or has otherwise been ill, or if you've been outside in hot weather for a prolonged amount of time, you should watch carefully for signs of dehydration.

Call the doctor within 12 hours if you note any of the following signs of dehydration in your baby:

Fewer than six wet diapers in 24 hours or diapers that stay dry for two or three hours, which might be a sign that urinary output is unusually scantUrine that appears darker yellow and more concentratedDry mucous membranes (you might notice cracked lips)Tearless cryingSkin seems dry and slack (doesn’t bounce back when gently pressed)Sunken eyesListlessnessSunken fontanel – the “soft spot” on the top of her head

In extreme cases, babies need treatment right away and may require rehydration with intravenous (IV) fluids. Go to your child’s doctor or the emergency room immediately if you notice your baby:

Has not made a wet diaper for six or more hoursIs extremely fussyIs unusually sleepyHas cold and/or splotchy-looking hands and feetHas very dry mucous membranes (dry mouth, cracked lips, dry eyes)

Preventing dehydration when it’s hot outside

When it’s hot outside, the most important step to preventing dehydration in your baby is by protecting her from extreme weather in the first place — which means ensuring she stays out of the sun (a good practice anyway to safeguard that delicate skin) and dressing her in light, breathable clothing. Never bundle her up in blankets while she’s sleeping (important, since overheating at nighttime has been linked to SIDS).

Preventing dehydration due to illness

The most likely scenario for dehydration in babies is when they’re sick: Your baby can lose lots of fluids quickly if she’s vomiting, has diarrhea or refuses to eat due to a sore throat or mouth. Usually these symptoms are caused by a virus — and although you can’t prevent your baby from getting the occasional cold or flu, good hand-washing definitely helps (remind your caregiver, too). So does staying up-to-date with your child’s well-baby visits and immunizations, since there is a vaccine for rotavirus — one of the most common causes of severe diarrhea in infants and toddlers — that your baby can get starting at 2 months old.

Treatment for dehydration in babies

Even if your breastfed or formula-fed baby is throwing up or has diarrhea, continue to offer breast milk and/or formula regularly — at least as often as usual, if not more. Wait an hour after your baby throws up and then offer a teaspoon of liquid every 10 minutes for an hour. If your baby can keep it down, you can gradually increase the amount you're offering.

For older babies who have started solids, water may be sufficient in mild cases. If there’s substantial fluid loss, especially if baby has a combination of diarrhea and vomiting, your child’s pediatrician may also recommend offering older babies liquids for electrolyte replacement (i.e. drinks such as Pedialyte) to replace sodium and potassium lost in diarrhea and/or small amounts of water. Make sure you follow your doctor’s advice about how and when to give these.

Article courtesy of By Heidi Murkoff


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