It’s normal for humans to lose water throughout the day as it evaporates from the skin and exits the body through breath, tears, sweat and excretion.

Typically, a toddler is able to replenish any lost fluids through food and drink; however, there are situations where a child may lose more water than they’ve taken in.

This tends to happen when a child has a fever, stomach flu, is out in the heat for too long or has overexerted themselves.

When this occurs, your child is at risk of dehydration—a serious condition where the body does not have sufficient fluids to function correctly.

Identifying the warning signs of dehydration in toddlers is critical to treating it efficiently so your child can go back to their normal routine.

How to Tell if Your Child is at Risk of Dehydration

Kids are at a higher risk of getting dehydrated than adults since their bodies are smaller, meaning they also have a smaller reserve of water.

Toddlers often forget to drink enough water as well, which can leave them susceptible to dehydration.

If your child is experiencing a fever, excessive sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, little fluid intake during sickness, chronic illness or exposure to hot temperature, he or she is at risk of dehydration.

Looking for Dehydration in Toddlers

It can be difficult to identify dehydration in your little one, especially since it can either happen quickly or very slowly.

If your child’s come down with the flu or another illness that has caused vomiting, fever and diarrhea, he or she should be very closely monitored for symptoms.

Warning signs of dehydration in a toddler include:

  • Skin that is cold to the touch
  • Lack of energy
  • Urine that is darker in color
  • Dry, cracked lips
  • No tears when crying
  • Lack of urine for eight hours
  • Increased breathing or heart rate
  • Extreme fussiness

If your toddler shows signs of dehydration, it’s important that you contact a doctor immediately.

How to Treat Dehydration in Toddlers

To treat dehydration, you must replenish the fluids that have been lost. While it’s possible to manage mild dehydration at home, it’s a good idea to have your child evaluated by a doctor who can evaluate the severity of the situation.

The first step in treating dehydration is to give your child fluids in the form of Pedialyte or another rehydration solution that contains water and salts.

Typically, water alone isn’t enough to reverse the effects of dehydration. If you don’t have Pedialyte at home, consider milk or diluted juice until you can purchase an oral rehydration.

Continue to give your child the solution until you notice their urine has turned clear again.

If your child is sick and cannot keep anything down, don’t give them more than a spoonful of liquid at a time. This will help prevent them from throwing it back up.

If you are breastfeeding your child, this is another great option for rehydration. You can still, however, give your baby a rehydration solution in a bottle, but it’s important that you read the instructions first.

Can You Prevent Dehydration?

Knowing the signs of dehydration is crucial to keeping your child healthy and happy.

Once your child has become overly thirsty, he or she may already be experiencing dehydration.

If your child has come down with an illness, it’s a good idea to proactively increase their fluid intake by offering extra water and a rehydration solution to stave off dehydration.

In some cases, your child may refuse to eat or drink due to a sore throat. If this happens, an acetaminophen or ibuprofen can alleviate the pain and make it easier for your child to take in fluids.

It’s also important that your child is current on vaccines. This includes the rotavirus vaccination, which is responsible for a third of all diarrhea-related hospitalizations for children under the age of five.

During hot summer days, make sure your child acclimates to the heat slowly and drinks plenty of fluid. This is even more important if your child is working up a sweat.  

Teaching your toddler about good hygiene is also one of the best ways to keep them healthy, especially during cold and flu season.

Show them how to properly wash their hands before they eat or drink and after they use the bathroom.

Finally, avoid giving your toddler sugar soft drinks like soda or juice. Sugar and salt can both lead to dehydration. Instead, opt for plain water, which will help hydrate your child.

Should I See a Doctor If My Child is Dehydrated?

The safe answer is yes. Because it can be difficult to tell how severe your child’s dehydration is, it’s always a good call to see a doctor.

He or she can assess the situation and administer more intense treatment if needed. Typically, this includes an IV drip to get fluids to your child more quickly.

If your child is undergoing treatment, but doesn’t seem to be improving or becomes worse, return to the doctor for a reevaluation.

You should also seek additional medical care if you notice blood in your toddler’s stool or vomit or if your child has diarrhea that lasts more than a few days. 

A fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit should also be a warning sign that your child needs medical attention.

If you believe your child is suffering from dehydration, consider visiting Medical City Children’s Urgent Care.

Our qualified physicians will get your child on a treatment plan so you can return to your normal day-to-day activities in no time.

Medical City Urgent Care Can Help

Each of the Medical City Children’s Urgent Care locations is designed specifically for children, so your child will love visiting our facilities too.

With four locations throughout the DFW area, we offer a number of pediatric services like digital X-rays, IV fluids, flu shots and more.

Be sure to utilize our Web Check-In® feature before your visit so you can avoid sitting in the lobby. Don’t forget: Walk-in patients are welcome too!

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.