People of all ages can develop dehydration from excess fluid loss, but newborns, in particular, are more at risk of developing the condition. Dehydration is the result of losing more fluids--through sweat, vomiting or diarrhea--than you are taking in. Babies typically develop dehydration as the result of an infection that causes a high fever or severe vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, babies who are sick often are not interested in eating or drinking, which can further contribute to dehydration. Most cases of dehydration are not serious, but when it is severe it can be life-threatening. In severe cases, babies may need to receive intravenous fluids to rehydrate the body.
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One of the most obvious signs of dehydration in a newborn is a lack of wet diapers. If your baby does not produce a wet diaper for six or eight hours, she is dehydrated, according to KidsHealth. Also, a baby who produces only a small amount of urine that is darker than normal or has a stronger odor than normal may be dehydrated. MedlinePlus recommends contacting your baby's pediatrician if she goes more than eight hours between producing wet diapers.
A newborn who is dehydrated may cry without producing any tears, according to BabyCenter. In fact, your baby may cry more than usual because the dehydration makes him cranky and irritable, but as the dehydration worsens tears will stop being produced because the body lacks sufficient fluids.
Sunken Soft Spot
If your newborn's soft spot has not yet closed, it could provide a clue as to whether she is dehydrated. When a baby is dehydrated, the soft spot can appear sunken, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center. The eyes may also appear sunken. If you notice this, contact your pediatrician immediately because this may be a sign of severe dehydration requiring medical treatment.
Lack of Activity
Babies who are dehydrated may seem less active than usual or may be sleepy or lethargic, according to BabyCenter. If your baby is extremely sleepy or difficult to wake, it could be a sign of severe dehydration, and you should report it to your pediatrician.
Dry, Cool Skin
When a newborn's body is dehydrated, his skin can feel dry and cool or cold to the touch. The lips can also be dry or cracked. In particular, feet or hands that are cold to the touch and have splotchy coloring can be a sign of severe dehydration, according to BabyCenter. If you are considering whether your baby is dehydrated, try pinching his skin between your thumb and index finger. If the skin remains up in the pinched position after you have released it, he is dehydrated.