Dehydration Symptoms in Toddlers

Dehydration is a medical condition caused by inadequate fluid levels within the body. If left untreated, dehydration can be a life-threatening condition—especially in infants and toddlers. Symptoms of dehydration can be difficult to detect in toddlers, but require immediate attention to prevent further medical complications.

A woman holds a toddler who is snuggling into her. Credit: Buccina Studios/Photodisc/Getty Images

Dry Diaper

A hydrated toddler typically needs to have her wet diaper changed every two to four hours. A dehydrated toddler will not have enough fluid within her body to produce urine. If your toddler continues to have a dry diaper for more than six hours, this may indicate that she is dehydrated.

Dark Urine

Excess waste is removed from the body by the kidneys and is excreted as urine. If your toddler has low fluid levels within his body due to dehydration, his urine can become concentrated with excess waste products. This can cause his urine to appear darker in color or to develop an abnormally strong odor.

Lethargy

Decreased fluid levels due to dehydration can cause your toddler to appear uncharacteristically fatigued or lethargic. She may take longer-than-usual naps or appear confused or glassy-eyed when you speak to her. Dehydration can cause your toddler to feel dizzy or lightheaded, which can cause her to stumble or knock into things more frequently when she walks.

Dry Lips

Fluids within the body help keep the skin, lips and mouth hydrated. If your toddler is suffering from dehydration, he can develop noticeable dry lips or a dry mouth. Increased thirst caused by dehydration and dry mouth can cause him to cry for his bottle or juice cup.

Lack of Tears

If your toddler is dehydrated, she can become abnormally restless or fussy, explain health professionals at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When she cries, you can notice that she does not produce any tears. This can occur during states of moderate to severe dehydration because your toddler's body does not have high enough fluid levels to generate tears.

Cold Extremities

In cases of severe dehydration, your toddler can develop abnormally cold hands or feet. The skin of his extremities can also appear discolored or splotchy due to dehydration.

Sunken Eyes

If your toddler is moderately or severely dehydrated, her eyes can appear sunken into her skull. The skin around her eyes can become dark or discolored, which can cause her to look ill or fatigued.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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