How can I tell if my baby is dehydrated?


It may be winter, but the climate in Joburg is dry and the days can get be quite warm and pleasant. And even in the wet, wintry climate of Cape Town, it is entirely possible for our babies to become dehydrated. 

So how can you tell and what should you do? 

What is dehydration?

As a mom, it’s really important to know the signs of dehydration in your baby so that you can remedy it quickly. Left untreated, dehydration can become very serious so it’s best to know when and how to take action.

If your baby is dehydrated, it means that fluid is leaving her body faster than it is being replaced. Vomiting, diarrhoeafever, or sweating can cause dehydration. It’s quite common in babies and young children because they’re smaller and more sensitive to fluid loss¹, ². The problem is that when there’s not enough fluid in the body, it upsets the balance of minerals that enable all parts of the body to do their job properly³. 

Any of these signs² could indicate that your baby is dehydrated or is becoming dehydrated:

  • A marked decrease in the number of wet nappies
  • Urine that looks darker and smells stronger than usual
  • A dry, parched mouth and lips and less elasticity in the skin
  • Fewer or no tears while crying
  • Eyes and fontanelle appear sunken
  • Excessive sleepiness or fussiness

What’s the best way to treat dehydration in babies?

Prevention is always best, so if your child keeps vomiting or has a tummy bug, be especially vigilant and try and top up her fluid intake regularly. If you suspect your child might be dehydrated or if you notice any of the above symptoms, take them to a doctor straight away. If your little one's dehydration is severe, she might need to go to hospital where she will be given fluids through a drip.

Fortunately, most cases of dehydration are not serious and can usually be treated at home on the advice of your doctor.

Doctors often recommend an oral rehydration solution in small and frequent doses to replenish lost fluids. Check with your doctor or pharmacist: some formulas are safe for babies older than 3 months and contains an optimal balance of sugars, salts and minerals to effectively treat dehydration and electrolyte loss due to gastroenteritis and diarrhoea. Also check that they don't contain artificial preservatives, colourants or sweeteners.






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