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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 or she 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 or her.
  • Your child becomes dizzy or faint when he or she stands.
  • Your child will not drink or breastfeed at all.
  • Your child is not drinking the ORS or vomits after he or she 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 or her 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.

Prevent or manage dehydration in your child:

  • Offer your child liquids as directed. Ask his or her 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 or she may need to drink up to 8 ounces (1 cup) of water every 20 minutes. Breastfeed your baby more often, or offer him or her extra formula.
  • Continue to breastfeed your baby or offer him or her formula even if he or she drinks ORS. Give your child bland foods, such as bananas, rice, apples, or toast. Do not give him or her dairy products or spicy foods until he or she feels better. Do not give him or her soft drinks or fruit juices. These drinks can make his or her condition worse.
  • Keep your child cool. Limit the time he or she spends outdoors during the hottest part of the day. Dress him or her in lightweight clothes.
  • Keep track of how often your child urinates. If he or she urinates less than usual or his or her urine is darker, give him or her more liquids. Babies should have 4 to 6 wet diapers each day.

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

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

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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.

Learn more about Dehydration in Children (Discharge Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.