Signs of dehydration in babies

dehydration in babies

by Lorna White |
Published on

Although it might seem that your baby is always wanting some boob, and even when they're a bit older they're always sucking on their sippy cup, it is possible for your baby to get dehydrated, just like it is for adults and older children. In fact, according to the NHS, babies, children and the elderly are more at risk of dehydration.

As a parent, it's important to know the symptoms and signs of dehydration in babies, as they won't be able to tell you how they're feeling like your older kids can.

What are the signs of dehydration in babies?

• Sunken soft spot on the top of your newborns head

• Sunken eyes

• Sleeping more regularly (more than what's normal for them)

• Wrinkly skin

• Fussiness

• Crying with no tears

• Cold or discoloured hands and feet

• Fast breathing

• Fast heart rate

• A dry nappy for 6 hours or longer

• A dry mouth

What causes dehydration in babies?

As any breastfeeding mum will know, babies can sometimes struggle to get the hang of feeding, from issues like latching and difficulty swallowing and digesting, to problems with milk supply. Other causes can relate to your babies health and also the outside temperature, with many experiencing dehydration on those hotter days.

• Difficulty latching onto your nipple

Low milk supply

• Issues with getting the hang of sucking (sometimes this can be down to tongue tie or not getting in the right position when it comes to feeling)

• Vomiting up milk

• Sweating



Heatstroke and overheating in hot weather

How to treat dehydration in babies

Feeding issues?

Try to regularly breastfeed (or feed if you're not breastfeeding) your baby. If you're finding feeding tough, or you think your baby is struggling to get the hang of things, it's a good idea to speak to your midwife, to find out what might be causing those issues. You might even be interested in seeking help from a lactation consultant too.

You could also try pumping your milk, or giving your baby milk from a bottle or little dropper to make sure your baby is getting some fluid into their system.

If your baby is formula fed, try changing up the formula you're using to see if your baby prefers this. You should definitely try this if you're finding that your baby is regularly spitting up or vomiting their milk.

Read more: When can babies have water?


If you find your baby is getting sweaty in the night, make sure you're dressing them in breathable clothing. You can also turn down the thermostat and opt for lighter bedding to try and keep them cool - especially if we're experiencing a heatwave.

If your baby has began weaning, it might be a good idea to offer them a frozen fruit smoothie or ice pop to help up their fluid intake in a more fun way!

Read more: What should my baby wear to bed?

When to call the doctor?

Because of how small they are, it can get pretty serious quite fast if they're dehydrated. That's why if you spot any of the above symptoms of dehydration in your baby, you should call your doctor or the 111 out of hours service.

Always call your doctor if your baby is projectile vomiting or has a temperature over 38°C.

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