If your newborn has diarrhoea or vomiting, it is essential to protect him from getting dehydrated. Dehydration can have grave consequences and might entail a visit to the emergency room.
Babies in general get dehydrated very quickly if there is a large fluid loss. This is because their small bodies store very less quantities of fluids and their high metabolic rates causes them to lose water and electrolytes quickly. If the fluid loss is not replaced in time, their condition can get critical within no time.
What is dehydration?
When a baby is said to be dehydrated, it indicates that the baby does not have the adequate amount of fluids in the body for normal functioning. As mentioned above, babies are more prone to dehydration than adults, and this occurs when the fluid output becomes greater than the fluid intake. Fluid loss in children is common through vomiting, diarrhoea, fever or perspiration. In mild cases, dehydration can be corrected quickly, but in some cases, it could be severe and life threatening.
What causes dehydration in newborns?
Diarrhoea is the commonest cause of dehydration in new-borns and young children. During an episode of diarrhoea, there is an increased loss of water and electrolytes in a short span of time. It is very difficult to replace this loss through breastfeeds. The risk of developing dehydration is higher when diarrhoea persists for a few days.
If diarrhoea is accompanied with other symptoms that cause depletion of fluids, dehydration sets in earlier. For instance, if the baby is vomiting, dehydration can occur sooner and become very serious. Other causes that leads to fluid loss and can lead to dehydration in infants include fever, sore throat, increased perspiration and overheating in hot weather.
What are the signs and symptoms of dehydration in newborn babies?
Being aware of the signs of dehydration in children can help parents recognize them and initiate prompt treatment. Learn to identify the early signs of dehydration in newborns:
- Dry diaper even after 6 hours
- Dry mucous membranes such as dry mouth and lips
- Sunken fontanels the soft spot on the top of the head
- Urine is dark and smells stronger than normal
- Weeping without tears
Signs of severe dehydration in newborn babies include the following:
- Sunken eyes
- Increased sleepiness
- Becoming more fussy
- Poor skin elasticity
- Hands and feet feel very cold to touch
- Fast breathing
- Severe dehydration can even lead to loss of consciousness
How to treat dehydration in infants?
If a baby is showing signs of dehydration, it is best to inform a doctor or take him to the hospital immediately. He might need intravenous fluids until he is adequately replenished.
How can one prevent dehydration in children at home?
Continue breastfeeding as frequently as possible, and if the baby is 6 months or older, a little water can be added to the diet until he is taking solid foods. If the baby is less than 6 months old, consult a paediatrician about giving small quantities of water. Juices are not recommended for babies under 1 year of age.