Did you know that dehydration can have serious consequences for babies and toddlers? It’s important to keep your children hydrated the entire day, especially if they are active, and to monitor your newborn baby for any sign of dehydration.

Dehydration can be caused by various factors including vomiting, diarrhoea, fever or sweating. It’s quite common in babies and young children, because they’re smaller and more sensitive to fluid loss.

What are the signs of dehydration in babies and children?

Any of these signs could indicate that a baby is dehydrating:

  • A noticeable 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 when crying
  • Eyes and fontanelle (the soft spot on the top of her head) appear sunken
  • Lethargy, excessive sleepiness or fussiness

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

Prevention is always best, so if a child vomits regularly or continuously, or has a tummy bug, fluid intake should be topped up regularly. As babies are vulnerable to dehydration, parents should get medical advice if they notice any of the symptoms or are in any way concerned. Severe cases of dehydration are usually treated in hospital where fluids and minerals are replenished via a drip. However, mild dehydration can usually be treated at home under the advice of a health care practitioner.

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Doctors often recommend an oral rehydration solution (ORS) in small and frequent doses to replenish lost fluids.

Useful tips

  • Even if a baby’s diarrhoea or vomiting continues, keep offering her small amounts of fluid at regular intervals as some will be retained in her body.
  • Because sick babies often refuse to drink anything when they feel ill, some moms put the ORS solution into a syringe and squirt a small amount gently into the side of baby’s mouth. Care should be taken not to squirt the liquid into the back of the throat or squirt too much, too quickly as this may cause a baby to gag or choke.

Ideal solution

Most juices contain too much sugar, and water alone does not contain the correct balance of salts and sugars needed to restore electrolytes lost due to diarrhoea and the like. Having an appropriate balance of electrolytes in an oral rehydration solution is of the utmost importance to help stop dehydration.

REHIDRAT® is a good option, as it is safe for babies older than three months and contains an optimal balance of sugars, salts and minerals to effectively treat dehydration and electrolyte loss due to gastroenteritis and diarrhoea. It contains no artificial preservatives, colourants or sweeteners and is available in three flavours – Blackcurrant, Orange and Vanilla. The vanilla flavour is usually easily accepted by children as it has a sweeter taste.

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