Dehydration in toddlers: Close look on the warning signs

Dehydration among toddlers has a variety of causes. Some of the usual causes include fever, excess exercise, under the sun too long or the stomach flu.

Remember that dehydration should not be taken lightly. Once it occurs, the body does not have sufficient fluids to function optimally. In severe cases, this can lead to brain damage or even death.

What are the risk factors?

Dehydration is likely if more fluid is lost than what enters. Toddlers are prone to dehydration due to their smaller bodies.

Some become dehydrated since they do not drink enough water. There are also certain factors that puts one at higher risk such as:


Toddlers who are sick especially the stomach flu must be under close monitoring for indications of dehydration.

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Profuse sweating
  • Exposure to humid and hot weather
  • Chronic ailments such as bowel disorders or diabetes
  • Poor intake of fluid while sick

What are the warning signs?

Dehydration can develop in a steady manner over time or can arise abruptly. Toddlers who are sick especially the stomach flu must be under close monitoring for indications of dehydration. Remember that the warning signs are not always evident.

Take note not to wait until the toddler is excessively thirsty. If already thirsty, the child might already be dehydrated. You should also monitor for these warning signs:

  • Dark-colored urine
  • Parched, cracked lips
  • Dry or cold skin
  • Limited or no urine output for 8 hours
  • Low energy level
  • Sunken eyes or depressed soft spot on the head
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Lack of tears when crying
  • Rapid heart rate or breathing
  • Excessive fussiness

Management of dehydration

An effective way to manage dehydration is to restore the lost fluids. A mild case of dehydration can be treated at home. In case the toddler has diarrhea, fever or vomiting or shows the signs of dehydration, the following must be taken:

  • Provide the child with an oral rehydration solution. These solutions include salts and water in specific amounts and easy to digest. If an oral rehydration solution is not on hand, diluted juice or milk can be given until able to get some.
  • Fluids should be given slowly until the urine is clear. In case the toddler is vomiting, provide only a small amount at a time until able to keep it down. In most cases, the child can tolerate a spoonful at a time. Steadily increase the amount and frequency.


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