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Dehydration In Children


Dehydration is a condition that develops when your child's body does not have enough water and fluids. Your child may become dehydrated if he does not drink enough water or loses too much fluid. Fluid loss may also cause loss of electrolytes (minerals), such as sodium. Your child's dehydration may be mild to severe.


Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child has a seizure.
  • Your child's vomit is green or yellow.
  • Your child seems confused and is not answering you.
  • Your child is extremely sleepy or you cannot wake him.
  • Your child will not drink or breastfeed at all.
  • Your child is not drinking the ORS or vomits after he drinks it.
  • Your child is not able to keep food or liquids down.
  • Your child cries without tears, has very dry lips, or is urinating less than usual.
  • Your child has cold hands or feet, or his face looks pale.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has vomited more than twice in the past 24 hours.
  • Your child has had more than 5 episodes of diarrhea in the past 24 hours.
  • Your baby is breastfeeding less or is drinking less formula than usual.
  • Your child is more irritable, fussy, or tired than usual.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Offer your child liquids as directed:

Ask your child's healthcare provider how much liquid to offer each day and which liquids are best. During sports or exercise, and on warm days, your child needs to drink more often than usual. He may need to drink up to 8 ounces (1 cup) of water every 20 minutes. You may need to give your child an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS contains the right amounts of salt, sugar, and minerals in water. A sports drink is not the same as an ORS. Do not give your child a sports drink without asking his healthcare provider.


Continue to breastfeed your baby or offer him formula even if he drinks ORS. Give your child bland foods, such as bananas, rice, apples, or toast. Do not give him dairy products or spicy foods until he feels better. Do not give him soft drinks or fruit juices. These drinks can make his condition worse.

Keep track of how often your child urinates:

If he urinates less than usual or his urine is darker, give him more liquids to drink. Babies should have 4 to 6 wet diapers each day.

Keep your child cool:

Limit the time your child spends outdoors during the hottest part of the day. Dress him in lightweight clothes.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.