top five signs that your child might be dehydrated

Anyone can become dehydrated if they lose too much fluid, but children are more susceptible due to their smaller body mass and because they turn over water and electrolytes more rapidly due to a higher metabolic rate.1 Vomiting, diarrhoea and fever can quickly dehydrate young children so it is important to look out for signs of dehydration which may include:
  • Mouth and tongue appear dry2
  • Not passing urine. In babies nappies will stay dry.2
  • More sleepy then usual2
  • Sunken eyes2
  • Hands and feet feel cold2
When children become dehydrated they may not always say that they are thirsty, making signs of thirst an unreliable measure for the body’s need for water. A better indicator is the colour of their urine – clear or pale yellow means they are likely to be well hydrated. At the opposite end, if it is a dark yellow or amber colour then it may signal dehydration.1 If you notice any of these signs of dehydration or your child’s symptoms are not getting any better you should consult your doctor who will advise what steps to take. If your child is sick it is important to monitor them to prevent them from becoming dehydrated, and give them sufficient fluids such as an oral rehydration formula at the first sign of vomiting, diarrhoea or fever. Specialised rehydration products contain a balanced solution of glucose and electrolytes to help rehydrate the body quickly. Rehydration pop‐tops or ice blocks may be preferable for kids. If your child is vomiting try giving small amounts of a rehydration solution at regular intervals, such as a spoonful every few minutes.1 If you are breastfeeding, continue to do so, but offer your infant an oral rehydration solution in a bottle as well.1

Seek medical advice if diarrhoea or vomiting persists for longer than:

  • 6 hours in infants under 6 months
  • 12 hours in children under 3 years
  • 24 hours in children aged 3‐6 years
  • 48 hours in adults and children over 6 years