Dehydration In Toddlers: What Parents Must Know

If your toddler has fever, diarrhoea or vomiting, he could lose precious bodily fluids. This in turn could lead to dehydration. Here are some steps to handle such a situation.

By Ashwin Dewan

Dehydration In Toddlers: What Parents Must Know

We all lose fluids from our bodies every day as we sweat, pass urine or cry. Drinking enough water and other liquids helps replenish the lost fluids. Toddlers are dependent on their caregivers for this replenishment. According to a health website, children between the ages of one and three years need 1.3 litres of water per day. If they don’t get the optimum amount of fluids, they run the risk of becoming dehydrated. So, make sure your toddler is getting enough fluids.

SIGNS and SYMPTOMS of dehydration:

Remember, your toddler cannot express herself clearly and may not be able to communicate how thirsty she is. As parents, it is up to you to recognise dehydration through signs and symptoms such as:

  • Dry and cracked lips
  • Decreased urine output
  • Absence of tears when crying
  • Drowsiness or irritability
  • Low levels of energy
  • Vomiting more than once
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Cold or dry skin

It is vital to know the early signs of dehydration in your toddler so you can respond quickly.

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Treating dehydration in toddlers:

Treatment depends on how dehydrated your toddler is. If he has only mild dehydration, make sure he gets plenty of rest and keeps drinking fluids, as replenishment of lost fluids is an effective way to handle the problem. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. In a situation of dehydration, water may not be enough to bring your toddler up to par. Give her an oral rehydration solution (ORS) which can be bought over the counter from pharmacies These solutions contain water and salts in the right proportion.
  2. Keep giving your toddler liquids at frequent intervals until his urine is clear. If he is vomiting, give him fluids in very small quantities at frequent intervals. Slowly increase the quantity as his condition stabilises.
  3. Avoid giving foods that are spicy and oily to your toddler.

Mild dehydration can be handled at home. However, you should visit the doctor if your toddler is:

  • Not able to recover and is becoming more dehydrated
  • Not able to keep down even small amounts of fluid
  • Passing blood in his vomit or stool
  • Refuses to drink water or have ORS
  • Has diarrhoea which shows no signs of stopping

After stabilisation, what?

Once your toddler becomes better hydrated, the next step is to get him back to a normal diet. However, it is advisable to avoid foods with a high sugar content, as well as fried and spicy foods initially, as they can hinder the recovery process. So, keep him on a bland diet for a while and gradually re-introduce heavier foods.

What can you do to prevent dehydration?

Being aware of the possibility of your toddler becoming dehydrated is the first step towards preventing the condition. The following precautions are useful:

1) Always keep a packet of oral rehydration solution handy in either liquid or powder form.

Dr. Subbarayan says, “If your toddler falls ill, make sure she drinks more water than usual. Give her ORS if you think it is required. The best way to prevent dehydration in your child is to offer her fluids at regular intervals.”

2) If you are outdoors on a hot day, make sure your toddler does not get unnecessarily exposed to the sun. Ensure he stays in the shade as much as possible, wears a cap, and drinks plenty of water.

If your child does not drink enough water, there is no need to worry. For,there are ways through which you can make your little one drink water. Click the article below to know more. 

Ways to treat dehydration in toddlers at home:

  1. If your child is breastfeeding, continue with the breastfeed
  2. Give your toddler a light ganjee (rice porridge); it is easy to digest and will nourish her
  3. Fresh fruit juice, not packaged ones, can be given
  4. Any approved oral rehydration solution must be given. Strictly follow the instructions for use
  5. Also, give her water at frequent intervals

With inputs from Dr. Anbezhil Subbarayan, Senior Paediatrician and Pediatric Endocrinologist, Apollo Hospitals.

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