Is My Child Dehydrated?

Maintaining normal hydration is important if your little one is sick or spending a lot of time outdoors in the heat. Enfamil® explains how you can keep your little one adequately hydrated, along with how to recognize dehydration in babies and toddlers.

How Much Fluid Does My Child Need?

  • Most babies need about 1 1⁄2 to 2 fluid ounces of breast milk or formula each day for every pound of body weigh

  • When babies have a fever, are vomiting, or have diarrhea, they may need 2 to 3 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight. Additionally, older children may need even more (your pediatrician can help identify just how much your little one needs). 

  • On hot days, and when your child is particularly active, more liquid will be necessary. Your child may need to drink up to 8 fluid ounces (1 cup) of water every 20 minutes in order to stay hydrated. (Ask your doctor for the best amount to suit your child’s situation.) 

What Are the Best Sources of Fluids?

  • If your child is still breast feeding or taking formula, be sure to continue breastfeeding or formula feeding your child when he’s sick. 

  • An oral electrolyte solution, such as Enfamil® Enfalyte®, is a good source of liquids for little ones experiencing diarrhea, vomiting or fever. 

  • Oral electrolyte solutions are easy to digest and contain water and salts in specific proportions to replenish both fluids and electrolytes. 

  • You can also give your little one an oral electrolyte solution in a bottle as well but be sure to consult your baby's doctor.

  • For older children, water is a great source of liquid to maintain normal hydration. 

How Do I Know if My Child is Dehydrated?

Understanding how to recognize dehydration can help you keep your little one from becoming seriously ill. Look for these indications of dehydration in babies and toddlers: 

Mild to moderate dehydration 

  • Dry mouth and tongue 
  • Fewer tears when crying 
  • Urinates less frequently 
  • Less active than usual 

If your baby exhibits any of the above, offer her small drinks of breast milk or formula over a period of time. Toddlers and older children can also have sips of water. Additionally, liquids designed to quickly replace electrolytes, such as Enfamil® Enfalyte®, are a good option. But remember to feed your child slowly, and keep in mind that too much liquid at once can overload your child’s stomach and may make her throw up—resulting in more fluid loss. 

Speak with your pediatrician if you notice any of the above. Your child’s doctor will help outline at-home options for your little one. 

Severe dehydration 

Because little bodies lack the ability to store fluids (like those of older children), dehydration can become severe surprisingly fast. Watch your child carefully and seek medical attention immediately if she exhibits any of the following severe dehydration indications: 

  • Cool, dry, and blotchy skin 
  • Dry mouth and mucous membranes 
  • Little or no urine (and darker than normal) 
  • Sunken fontanel (the soft spot on your child's head), eyes, and/or cheeks 
  • Wrinkled skin 
  • Lethargy, disorientation, or the inability to be roused 

When Should I Call the Doctor?

You should reach out to your child’s pediatrician immediately if you notice dehydration. It is especially important that you seek out immediate medical assistance if severe dehydration is suspect.

Do you still have questions about dehydration in babies? Please address your questions to your baby's healthcare professional.