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Symptoms of Dehydration in Newborns & Its Prevention

Dehydration in Newborns

Usually, infants have a tendency of dehydration which should be treated at the earliest. Mothers and caretakers must be aware of the symptoms of dehydration in newborns. Many a times, the regular pattern of breast milk is not sufficient for an infant, especially during hot weather. Also, they lose water from the body in several ways through sweat, vomits, tears and urine. Hence, newborns are at greater risk of dehydration.

Dehydration in Newborns

Symptoms of Dehydration in Newborns

Know the symptoms of dehydration and seek medical help when appropriate.

There are three stages of dehydration in newborns- mild, moderate and acute.

Symptoms of Mild Stage of Dehydration in Newborns

This is the very first stage which affects almost every infant at a tender age of 10 to 15 days. They have frequent motions, vomits and urine due to breast feed. The water loss is adjusted by the milk content only. Water cannot be given to infants until they are above 6 months of age. The symptoms of dehydration in newborns in the mild stage include no wet diapers for a long period or dryness of facial skin. You can cure it on your own without medication of a doctor by providing frequent milk to your baby at short interval of time. However, breast feeding mothers should drink plenty of liquids than the solid food to produce more milk to prevent dehydration in the infants.

Symptoms of Moderate Stage of Dehydration in Newborns

The symptoms of dehydration in newborns in the moderate stage include:

  • Lethargic baby movements or loss of sleep,
  • Crying but have no tears,
  • Diaper is dry for more than 6 hours and
  • There are no watery stool or have irresistible bowel movements.

When such symptoms of dehydration in newborns last for 2 or 3 days, you must consult a doctor immediately. This can cause loss of essential nutrients and the zinc and minerals levels may start falling down in newborns. This should be examined and necessary supplements must be provided through oral drops as soon as possible. In such cases of dehydration in newborns, medicines for 5 days could settle the loss of water. Remember to breast feed continuously during the dehydration period.

Symptoms of Acute Stage of Dehydration in Newborns

This is the stage which usually occurs when the newborn is suffering from diarrhea or gastric disturbances. Due to frequent vomiting and loose motions, the body fluids and essential nutrients are lost. This is a not safe stage at all and could be fatal in various ways. The symptoms of dehydration in newborns in acute stage could include dry skin, dry mouth and tongue, lethargy, reduced activity, loss of tears and reduced urine.

In order to cure this stage of dehydration, you must see a pediatric and admit your baby in intensive care unit. Treatment may need glucose with sterile water for 24 hours or as required. Medicines and antibiotics are often given through intravenous tube method to treat diarrhea and infections.

These stages contain the description of the symptoms of dehydration in newborns, which every parent should consider and seek timely medical help. Do not neglect the daily activity of your child. Keep an eye on the diapers, baby cries, its activity levels and skin color and texture. A simple notice can keep your child safe from a deadly situation.

Prevention of Dehydration in Newborns

How to prevent dehydration in newborns, is a common question faced by many parents. If the mother is unable to feed the child, other alternatives must be considered, with the doctor’s advice. Soya milk, formula milk or probiotics, lactose tolerant milk powder are usually recommended.

  • Moreover, you can also prevent the symptoms of dehydration in newborns by giving gripe water mixed with sterile water in very small quantity. This will stop the frequent urine or loose motions and will soothe the intestine to sustain water levels.
  • Protect the infant from direct sun exposure while travelling. You can use light colored cotton clothes that covers the entire body; also cover the head. The UV rays will not be able to harm skin as well as precipitate water from the body through excessive sweating.
  • Another way to prevent dehydration in newborns is to feed them if they have cried or after they have passed urine or stool. This helps to maintain their fluid levels, which are lost due to tears and urination.
  • Bath your child properly with water so that skin gets external moisture and ph levels are maintained. It also helps in temperature regulation and will prevent overheating and during summers.

Many symptoms of dehydration in newborns appear when baby is severely ill with the disease. Doctors suggest that proper vaccination according to the baby growth chart should be followed to prevent dangerous gastrointestinal infections. Rota virus is a common infection that affects many infants causing dehydration. It can be prevented by vaccinating the infant with a course of Rota virus vaccine, as advised by the physician.

Parents must be vigilant about the symptoms of dehydration in newborns. Until they are on fluids it is necessary to keep them on formula milk powder or breast milk. 90% infants are out of danger if the mothers are eating and drinking well during a day and feeding healthy breast milk.


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2019). Dehydration. https://patiented.solutions.aap.org/handout.aspx?gbosid=166514
  2. MedlinePlus. (2021). Dehydration in Children. https://medlineplus.gov/dehydrationinchildren.html
  3. American Pregnancy Association. (2021). Breastfeeding: Basics and Tips. https://americanpregnancy.org/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-basics-and-tips/
  4. HealthyChildren.org. (2021). Newborns and Dehydration. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Newborns-and-Dehydration.aspx
  5. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Dehydration. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 25, 2023

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