How To Tell If Your Child Is Dehydrated And What To Do?

We lose our bodily fluids every day through urine, sweating and out stool, but when there is more fluid loss than fluid intake, it causes dehydration. Children are more prone to dehydration than adults, especially because their sweating and temperature systems aren’t fully developed yet, and their bodies are smaller and have less fluid reserves. Moreover, children don’t realize when they need to be rehydrated and need to be taken care of by their parents. Dehydration is especially prominent when a child is sick due to fever, vomiting and diarrhea. It can also happen if a child sweats too much but does not replenish the body afterward.



The Most Common Signs Of Dehydration In Children Are:

  • Dry, cracked lips and a dry mouth
  • Few or no tears when the child cries
  • Going more than 6 hours without urinating
  • Dark yellow, strong smelling urine
  • Lethargy

When your child is extremely dehydrated, it can be dangerous for his health.


Severe Dehydration Has The Symptoms Above, As Well As:

  • Excessive fussiness or sleepiness
  •  Sunken eyes
  •  Lightheadedness, dizziness and delirium
  • Splotchy hands and feet that feel cold
  • In infants, the soft spot on the head can be sunken in

Pure water is the best drink to offer your child when he is sick. Drinks like sodas, juices and sweetened liquids should be avoided. If your child is suffering from diarrhea and vomiting, monitor him closely and make sure he gets more fluids than he loses, because these conditions can cause severe dehydration that can be fatal. If your child has a fever, he could also be losing a lot of fluids during that time, especially because of the discomfort and sweating caused by the high body temperature. You can give your child medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen to control the symptoms of fever, which can make it more comfortable for your child to drink water. Conditions like a sore throat can also lead to dehydration because it might hurt the child’s throat to drink water, so easing the pain with medications while giving him cooler drinks (not too cold) and items like popsicles can make it easier for your child.


Children with mild to moderate dehydration need water as well as a special liquid called an oral rehydration solution (ORS). ORS can be found already made in tetra pack form as well as powder form that can be mixed in with water. It contains the right amount of sugar and salts to help the intestines absorb what is needed for the body. You can start the process of rehydration by giving your child 1 to 2 tablespoons of the ORS every few minutes, which adds up to around 200 milliliters of the fluid by the end of the hour. This should help the body to slowly recover from the dehydration, and give your child a little more energy. Once your child is feeling better, you can give him more volume of the ORS between longer intervals.

You can resume a normal, age-appropriate diet for your child 6 to 8 hours after he starts feeling better post dehydration. It is not a good idea to restrict the diet because it won’t provide the nutrients that are needed for the intestinal tract to recover, and can sometimes make the symptoms of the dehydration worse. Avoid oily, spicy and high-fat foods until your child has fully recovered, and stick to healthy foods like oats, pasta, rice, cooked eggs, baked or broiled meat, bread products, applesauce and fresh fruits like bananas. This will help your child’s body to recover better.

If your child does not recover from the dehydration or the symptoms get worse within a few hours after starting the ORS treatment, contact a doctor or get to the emergency room immediately. Your child may require intravenous fluids to replace the body fluids that are lost, and extra observation and rest at the hospital.