How To Recognize the Signs of Toddler Dehydration

Toddler playing with mom

Dehydration happens when your toddler loses too much liquid by vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive sweating. Extreme heat and irregular intake of liquid can also lead to dehydration. Although it seems simple, toddler dehydration is a serious medical condition. It leaves the body weak and lethargic. And if not addressed immediately, a severe case of dehydration might result in shock and can put your child at great risk. To prevent any complication, it is advisable that you check your toddler for signs of dehydration. Here are the signs you should look for.

  • Toddler has dry skin. A toddler suffering from dehydration has dry, wrinkly skin. If you press and release his skin, it will take more than two to three seconds for it to return to its normal form and color. His skin also feels somewhat cold. He also has cracked lips, sunken cheeks, and seemingly dry tongue.
  • Toddler produces no tears. There are times when your toddler wants to get attention and dramatically cries without tears. This is normal and does not often indicate dehydration. But when your toddler cries and means it, like when he is hurt or afraid, but does not have tears, he may be suffering from dehydration. His eyes might also be sunken, a clear sign that he lacks enough fluid in his body.
  • Toddler urinates less. Your toddler should urinate more than six times. If he urinates less than that, he most likely is dehydrated. Another sign is when he does not urinate for three to 12 hours. But when he does urinate, his urine is darker in color. To know if your toddler is dehydrated, check his diaper from time to time. If he is already potty trained, try to monitor his visits to the toilet room.
  • Toddler is lethargic. A dehydrated child is commonly lethargic, sleepy, and tired. He does not play as actively as he usually does and spends most of the time sleeping. If he happens to be awake, he seems not interested in whatever physical activity. He may retreat to one corner and may seem to be moving very slowly.
  • Toddler is easily irritated. Dehydration makes a toddler cranky and whiny. He fusses over the smallest things, even over things that were not a problem to him before. This sign is easy to notice in toddlers who are usually cheery.
  • Toddler is excessively thirsty. If your toddler is usually not craving for water, it is rather hard to know exactly if he is thirsty. But try to offer him water. If he readily grabs it and drinks non-stop, he is most likely very thirsty and very dehydrated.

If you suspect your child is dehydrated, immediately give him fluids like water, Gatorade, and rehydration solution like Pedialyte. Avoid giving him drinks with high sugar content such as juice. It won’t satisfy his thirst and won’t solve his dehydration. Especially if the child seems to be not well, is listless, and urinates less, seek medical help at once.


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